Missed Bar Mitzvah

I am an adult who unfortunately never had a Bar Mitzvah. I’ve been told that having one requires studying for a year and chanting in front of a congregation. But I’m embarrassed to say that this seems beyond me at the present. But I would like to respect tradition and do this properly. Is there any other way I can have a Bar Mitzvah at this point?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Actually, I'm happy to tell you that there is no real need for a ceremony at all. A Bar Mitzvah is not a one-time event. It is really a state of being. When a boy reaches the age of 13 (or a girl 12), he becomes obligated in observing the Torah. This is an obligation which continues for the rest of his life. When a boy reaches this state, he is called to the Torah and a festive meal is held to celebrate the occasion. But it’s not the celebration which makes him a Bar Mitzvah. It is his age. The celebration merely marks the event.

In your case, although the event was not celebrated at the time, you still became “Bar Mitvzah” as soon as you reached 13. So technically you do not have to do anything today.

Even so, it might be a nice idea to have a little get-together with family and friends to celebrate your newfound appreciation of your status, symbolizing that you now commit to live as a fully-observant Jew – especially in wearing Tefillin daily. So long as you (and usually others) give speeches containing Torah thoughts, the party would be considered a “festivity of mitzvah” and would be appropriate.

See here for more details of the Bar Mitzvah celebration. Oh and also, Mazal Tov!

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