Bar Mitzvah

By Christopher Farber

Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Historically, a boy reaching the age of 13 or a girl reaching the age of 12, becomes a bar or bat mitzvah, respectively. The words mean “subject to the commandments,” the spirit of which implies that the person is no longer a child in the eyes of Jewish law, but rather an adult. They may now access new religious privileges and religious rights because they are now committing to living as a responsible and observant adult Jew according to the precepts and commandments (To Be A Jew, Hayim Donin, p. 285) More colloquially, it means a big party, gifts, and pats on the back for “becoming a man/woman” at a time when most Western Jews are anything but.

The notion of the bar and bat mitzvah can extend beyond the traditional life cycle event, when one considers the true nature of adulthood in modern life. It is but a small segment of Jews that recognize their adulthood in concert with their responsibility towards Jewish law. That being said, it is within all of us to search for our place, in becoming adults, as responsible members of our households, our families, our communities and in our work life. Reboot has reimagined the bar and bat mitzvah as a continual opportunity to reflect on our own place in the world, and in all of the micro-segments of the world within which we associate, to reevaluate our role in the lives of the people around us. Rather than “aging up” at 13 from childhood to adulthood, we imagine each of us “Re-barring” every 13 years, at 13, 26, 39, 52 and beyond (or at any interval and/or starting point) to take a moment to step back, consider our lives and our place in the world up until that point. Beyond that, it gives us the opportunity to refocus moving forward. To acknowledge the history of the Jewish community, we have seen “Rebars” take up religious studies, secular projects, soul searching journeys and many other processes to dig deeper into their relation to the greater world around them, come to some conclusion about how they would like to orient themselves toward the rest of humanity moving forward, and then to declare that to their community, whether that be over a dinner with close family and friends, in front of a congregation, or just between themselves and a trusted confidant. Adulthood is a continuous process of learning, struggle, failure, growth and success. Rebar is your companion all the way through.