Primary Source

Bar Miztvah [Photograph]

Annotation

The three boys in the photograph belong to a group of Israeli boys who came together at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2008 for a mass bar mitzvah celebration. The orthodox social service organization Colel Chabad arranged the celebration for orphans and needy families. Several prominent Israeli rabbis participated in the celebration of this important Jewish rite of passage to adulthood.

"Bar Mitzvah" literally means "son of the commandment." This rite of passage marks the time, at the age of 13 for boys, when children are obligated to observe the commandments of Jewish law. Technically, no ceremony is needed, because a boy automatically passes this milestone upon becoming 13 years old. In recent times, the bar mitzvah has become popular and widespread as an individual and family observance. During Shabbat (congregational prayer) services on a Saturday shortly after the child's 13th birthday, the celebrant is called up to the Torah to recite a blessing over the weekly reading. In preparation for this day, the young boy spends time learning the Torah portion and prayers. Community service is often a part of this preparatory period before the bar mitzvah. A speech before the congregation occasion traditionally begins with the phrase, "Today I am a man. . ." The father also recites a blessing.

Source

Photograph copyright Chabad.org from article at http://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/933026/jewish/Mass-Bar-Mitzvah-at-Western-Wall.htm (accessed March 30, 2010). Annotated by Susan Douglass.

How to Cite This Source

"Bar Miztvah [Photograph]," in Children and Youth in History, Item #436, http://chnm.gmu.edu/cyh/primary-sources/436 (accessed April 17, 2014).