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Bar Mitzvah & Bat Mitzvah

According to Jewish law, when Jewish children reach the age of maturity (12 years for girls, 13 years for boys) they become responsible for their actions. At this point a boy is said to become Bar Mitzvah ("one to whom the commandments apply"); a girl is said to become Bat Mitzvah.

Before this age, all the child's responsibility to follow Jewish law and tradition lies with the parents. After this age, the children are privileged to participate in all areas of Jewish community life and bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics.

It is common in Jewish culture to celebrate the coming-of-age transition. In popular usage, the terms "Bar Mitzvah" and "Bat Mitzvah" are often mistakenly used to refer to the celebration itself; however the term actually refers to the boy or girl.

The term Bar Mitzvah is typically translated as "son of the commandment", and Bat Mitzvah as "daughter of the commandment". In Biblical Hebrew, however, the word "bar" or "bat" could also mean "subject to", e.g., a particular tax, penalty or obligation; therefore a more accurate translation of the term may actually be "subject to commandment".