A Catholic Perspective on a Bat Mitzvah

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One of the most important moments in a Jewish person’s life is to become a Bat or Bar Mitzvah. This ceremony happens at age 12 or 13 and symbolizes a Jewish boy or girl officially becoming a Jewish adult. I recently had the pleasure of attending a Bat Mitzvah for my best friend’s little sister. As a Catholic, I had not particularly experienced any alternative religious ceremonies besides those of my own. The only previous time I had ever attended something like this was for the older brother of the Bat Mitzvah. Attending this ceremony a second time, now much older and aware of the multiple other religions, I was excited to experience something so special.

I was first drawn to the overall vibe and atmosphere of the ceremony. Everyone who attended was incredibly gracious and kind. The Rabbi who would be leading the service was sincere and reflective. Just a few days prior, a terrorist attack had occurred at a Synagogue in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. While incredibly saddened, the Rabbi spread a message of hope to all the people in attendance. He mentioned that not only the Jewish community should come together, but all other religious communities as well. He mentioned Christians and Muslims as well as a few other religions with a large emphasis on unification and love during such an arduous time. Instead of dwelling on the sorrow and fear caused by this act of terror, he instead asked everyone to look to the future and be strong together. Through love and trust in one another, the Jewish people would prevail and stay strong as they always have.

After the Rabbi gave such a powerful message to the people, the ceremony began. In order for a young Jewish boy or girl to become a Jewish adult they must go through the process of reading from the Torah. The passage that was selected to be read was the 10 commandments. The Torah is entirely written in Hebrew and the Bat Mitzvah had to also recite the words in the Hebrew language as well. It is a difficult but beautiful process and was very interesting for me to witness. After the Bat Mitzvah successfully read from the Torah, she then gave a speech she had written based on the passage she read. She related the ten commandments to an article she read that focused specifically on the ten commandments for women. She spoke about the independence of women and the strength that women have in all aspects of life. A common theme I witnessed throughout this ceremony was the strong emphasis on being strong together. Only as a community of people in harmony would there be any strength and progression. After the ceremony ended, the celebration began. A lunch followed by a huge dinner party full of food, music, and dancing, would commence. All of these aspects put a large emphasis on just how important this moment is in a Jewish person’s life.

Seeing this from my perspective as a Catholic I saw many similarities. Of course there are similarities in what is taught in terms of Old Testament readings. There was also such a strong emphasis on acceptance no matter who you are or where you came from. While the Catholic Church does teach about these ideals, I do not hear them taught or spoken by members of the church nearly as much during actual services. I believe that not only Christians, but if every religion has these same sentiments in every aspect of life, there would not be asmuch negativity directed at faith. We as Catholics have been given the gift and privilege to share the word of God. We must embrace absolutely everyone with love and compassion if we are to do what Jesus and God intended for us to do.

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