Brit Milah is the naming ceremony for boys within Judaism. This takes place eight days after birth. It is then when a boy is circumcised as a mark of the covenant made between God and Abraham at the beginning of the Jewish faith. Candles are lit to represent the belief that the room was lit up when Moses was born. Once the circumcision is complete, the boy’s name is announced and the baby is given to his mother to be fed.
The Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah mark when, in the eyes of their faith, a child becomes an adult. The Bar Mitzvah is for boys, the Bat Mitzvah is for girls.
The Bar Mitzvah takes place on the Shabbat after the boy’s 13th birthday and it is on this day that a father is released from the duty of bringing up his son, “Blessed is he who has freed me from the liability of this one.”
The boy becomes a man and is responsible for his religious acts and beliefs. As part of the ceremony, the boy has his first reading of the Torah in the synagogue.
Bar Mitzvah means ‘Son of the Commandments’ and from this point on that is what the boy is regarded as. It is a time for the male to confirm that he wishes to remain part of Judaism and, in doing so, he becomes a stronger part of his community.
Just as girls have different roles within Judaism, so too do they have different ceremonies. A Bat Mitzvah will take place after a girl’s 12th birthday. It will often take place in her home, with the reciting of a blessing by the girl. However, with the current promotion of gender equality, members of the Reform and Liberal movements within Judaism will celebrate this day with an event in the synagogue.