Coming of Age in Judaism
Within Judaism there is the well-known ceremony of Bar mitzvah for a boy when he turns thirteen years old and becomes recognized as a "man". For a girl at twelve years of age she becomes a "woman". In Judaism it is recognized that girls mature slightly ahead of boys. Judaism recognizes that these ages coincide with puberty, which in past times made them eligible for marriage.
The coming of age ceremony called a bar mitzvah ("son of the commandment" in Aramaic) is held on the Saturday (Shabbat) after a Jewish boy's thirteenth birthday. A similar ceremony called a bat mitzvah (or bas mitzvah which is Hebrew for "daughter of the commandment") is held on the Saturday closest to a Jewish girl's twelfth birthday. However, the female coming of age ceremony is not as commonly practiced as the bar mitzvah. The bat mitzvah is recognised mostly by Reform Judaism, Conservative Judaism, and Modern Orthodox Judaism. Haredi Judaism and Hasidic Judaism only celebrate bar mitzvahs.
In orthodox communities the Jewish girl, at about 13, has a service of Bat Chayil (daughter of valour). She will be allowed to read in the synagogue but not from the Torah, only from the prophets and the writings. In reform communities boys and girls are seen as equal and the girls take part in a ceremony called Bat Mitzvah (daughter of the commandments) which is the same as the boys' ceremony.
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