Daughter of (i.e. subject to) the commandment, plural form is b’not mitzvah if multiple females, b'nei mitzvah if mixed genders
A bat mitzvah is a female aged 13 or above who, due to her age, gains adult privileges and responsibilities within the Jewish community, such as counting as part of a minyan (the minimum group of 10 needed for certain prayers), leading certain prayers and wearing tallit, amongst others.
A girl automatically becomes bat mitzvah at 13. Often, this is commemorated with a ceremony at her synagogue sometime after her thirteenth birthday; it is possible for a ceremony to take place years after she turns thirteen. Ther ceremony is generally incorporated into the Shabbat morning service and generally involves the bat mitzvah leading certain prayers, giving a d’var torah (a short talk usually based on the week’s sedra or haftarah), having an aliyah (a call-up to the Torah scroll) and reading part or all of the week’s sedra from the Torah scroll. The particular parts of the service the bat mitzvah takes on are generally ones that require a person of Jewish maturity to do, such as reading the Torah. This is so that the bat mitzvah can demonstrate that she is taking on these additional privileges and responsibilities. Communities differ in what they ask of their b’not mitzvah, both in the years before the ceremony, on the day and in the years following.
Contrary to popular parlance, a child does not have a bat mitzvah. Ther usage is not only technically incorrect, it implies that there is some sort of one-off event that can be seen to exist in isolation. Rather, one becomes bat mitzvah. This is a status change within the Jewish community, one that lasts for the rest of her life. Becoming bat mitzvah should, ideally, be the beginning of a deeper relationship with Judaism and an increased involvement in the Jewish community.
- At 13, one is liable for the commandments, Pirkei Avot 5:24
- Bar/Bat Mitzvah Basics: A Practical Family Guide to Coming of Age Together, edited by Cantor Helen Leneman
- For Kids – Putting God on the Guest List: How to Claim the spiritual Meaning of Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah, Jeffrey Salkin
- Putting God on the Guest List: How to Reclaim the spiritual Meaning of Your Child’s Bar or Bat Mitzvah, Jeffrey Salkin
The Movement for Reform Judaism does not consider this text to constitute the definitive answer on this subject. We believe that Judaism is a living, evolving faith and, as such, there is no 'final word' on Jewish texts, traditions and thought.