Copyright/attribution: Rabbi Yisroel Fine
A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is a coming of age ceremony for Jewish boys and girls when they reach the age of 12 or 13. Bar Mitzavah means ‘Son of the Commandments’ and Bat Mitzvah means ‘Daughter of the Commandments.’ This ceremony marks the time when a boy or girl becomes a Jewish adult. This means that they are now responsible for their own actions and can decide for themselves how they would like to practice Judaism. During the ceremony a boy is expected to read aloud from the Torah for the first time. In more traditional communities girls would not read from the Torah, but might give a sermon or speech. However in Reform or Liberal Jewish communities girls will also read aloud from the Torah. A Bar and Bat Mitzvah is a very important milestone not only in the life of the young person but of the whole family, so it is sometimes celebrated with a big party. The traditions may vary depending on the community.
Rabbi Yisroel Fine had his Bar Mitzvah at Merthyr Tydfil Synagogue. Listen to this clip of him describing the day.