The term Bat Mitzvah means "daughter of the commandments". It refers to a girl's coming to maturity in terms of Jewish law, which according to the Talmud (Nida 45b) is when she reaches her twelfth Hebrew birthday. Boys, of course, do not reach halachic adulthood until they turn 13. The disparity in age serves to highlight the different roles accorded to men and women in Judaism. The Talmud recognises that not only do girls grow up earlier from a physical point of view, but from an emotional one as well. They are considered to be able to handle the responsibility that comes with maturity from a more tender age.
Bat Mitzvah celebrations have not always been a widespread phenomenon within Orthodox Jewish circles. There is no longstanding historical connection with any form of ceremony or party; the term Bat Mitzvah simply referred to the automatic conferring of adult status upon a young woman. It was only during the 19th century that it gradually became practice for Jewish families to hold special feasts in their home to mark their daughters' twelfth birthdays. In pre-independence "Palestine", marking a Bat Mitzvah was practically unheard of until the 1948 war of Independence, when those celebrating important events such as a brit, Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah received extra rations of staples like eggs, oil and sugar.
From January 2007, we have now introduced a Bat Mitzvah test, parallel to the existing Bar mitzvah test for boys, which girls can also sit three times a year. Candidates will also receive a certificate which can be given in the synagogue or other appropriate place. This provides a girl with the perfect opportunity to spend time studying Torah and considering her role within the Jewish community - from now on, all the responsibilities and privileges of an adult Jewish woman are hers for the taking.
To find out more information on 'Bar and bat Mitzvah syllabus' please click the download below.