What is a Bat Mitzvah?

A Bat Mitzvah is a status of a Jewish girl once she reaches the age of twelve. From the age of twelve and onwards, Jewish girls are regarded as responsible to observe the six-hundred-and-thirteen commandments of the Torah. The Bat Mitzvah status is achieved whether or not the girl celebrates it’s occurrence or not.

What does Bat Mitzvah actually mean?

Bat Mitzvah is a Hebrew phrase that translates to mean “daughter of commandment” reflecting the change in status achieved by a twelve-year-old girl in the eyes of Jewish law.

What do the Jewish mystical writings have to say about Bat Mitzvah?

In the same way that twelve-year-old’s bodies are changing, developing and growing so too are their souls and according to Kabbalah, one’s spiritual being has several levels of soul and at the time of one’s Bat Mitzvah, a new level of soul comes into awareness. As a result moral awareness and sensitivity develops fully and the twelve-year-old girl can be held responsible for her actions.
Furthermore, the Talmud explains that one who is commanded to fulfill a commandment and does so is better than one who isn’t commanded to fulfill a commandment yet does so voluntarily. This is due to the fact that human beings have a natural aversion of doing that which they are obliged to do. The overcoming of this aversion is a sign of maturity and the Bat Mitzvah is a celebration of this- the state of obligation that is reached.

What is done in order to celebrate the Bat Mitzvah?

Nowadays, it is very acceptable to hold a reception in order to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah. Ideally, the reception is held on the Hebrew date on which the young woman celebrates her Bat Mitzvah.
Practices vary from community to community regarding what Bat Mitzvah girls do at the reception. It is considered proper for the young woman to give over some kind of Torah thought at the celebration- often related to the time of year that the celebration occurs in.
It is important that celebrations do not take on an ostentatious feel because often in these cases the spiritual significance becomes secondary and it is important that the young woman appreciates the real meaning of the event- that the Bat Mitzvah is a celebration of maturity and responsibility.

What is an appropriate Bat Mitzvah Gift?

It is the accepted practice that those invited to the Bat Mitzvah celebration will bring a gift for the young woman. Judaica gifts are always a good idea in the case of a Bat Mitzvah due to the religious significance of the event. Jewish Jewelry will always be appreciated by the young woman, Jewish books, Jewish music Cds etc.