I once experienced this activity in the United States with a Jewish family, but never knew what it was until I got to see it again on my tour to Israel (Click for more details about Israel Tours). I knew it was called the bar/bat mitzvah and that it was the ceremony of 'coming of age'. As we got to Mount Massada, I was privileged to partake in the religious service. A young girl stepped out to perform this service, guided by the rabbi to read from the holy book called the Torah. It was an exciting and soul lifting worship. I inquired why it was a child performing this activity as compared to adults that we had back in the US in regular religious services. My findings were really intriguing.
Both sexes male and female can perform these rites, for as long as they have been well tutored by a rabbi over a period of years. The young female child attains this position having reached the age of twelve, which of course is seen as the age of development for girls. At this point I was told that girls as well as boys become responsible for their decisions and in some sort are treated like adults. This Jewish tradition has long been upholding and is often accompanied with some ceremony. My quest for more information made me ask for the activities that actually take place before the child is allowed to perform these services. He promised to give me a video clip showing such. I enjoyed wearing the skull cap or yarmulke during this service, it was humbling.
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When handed over a video clip as promised, I watched this exciting party held for a young lad having become bar mitzvah at the age of 13. It was a bit confusing until the following day when the guide told me there was a show he wanted to me to see firsthand. I was excited as it had been fun all the way. When we arrived at this home, we were greeted by a rather soft spoken elderly man, who took us in and we sat quietly on a mat. My guide whispered to me it was a bar mitzvah ceremony for his cousin. Now it was rather confusing because the clip I watched was a real fun fair, whereas here I was sitting quietly on a mat lost in soul lifting thought. Seeing my confused state he explained that there are various movements in Judaism such as the Conservatives, Orthodox, Reform etc. He just wanted me to witness first hand another form of Bar Mitzvah ceremony.