According to Jewish law when Jewish children reach the 13 years for boys and 12 for girls they become responsible for their actions, and "become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah". In many Conservative and Reform synagogues, girls celebrate their Bat Mitzvahs at age 13, along with boys. This also coincides with physical puberty. Prior to this, the child's parents hold the responsibility for the child's adherence to Jewish law and tradition and, after this age, children bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics and are privileged to participate in all areas of Jewish community life.So basically, when someone turns 13 in the Jewish faith, they are considered an adult member of the community. And you know what that means...
During the service at Sarah's home synagogue in Maryland, my mother turned to me and said, "there's a lot of joy in this room, isn't there?" And it's true. The room was full of people who were bursting with pride for Sarah, and not just because her reading of the Torah was magnificent and her speech was wonderful. But because they had seen her grow up into a poised and, dare I say, wise young woman. I know that sounds cheesy, but what can I say? Sometimes the cliche is true. And when Jews are happy, they aren't ones to stay quiet about it.
Seriously, Jews take any excuse to sing, clap, stamp our feet, bang on the table, dance, shout, and find any way to express happiness. And that's why they're great. Oh, and did I mention the wine drinking? My people! Gotta love them.
After the service, we spent a fun afternoon visiting with one my mother's 40 cousins (....that may not be that great of an exaggeration), and then it was off to the community rec center for the party. There were sparkly masks to go along with the Mardi Gras theme, cupcakes, and drinks. Drinks that me and Mom's cousins promptly spiked with the bourbon and gin we snuck in with us. What? I said we took any excuse to party!
And I even managed to get Mom and some of her cousins out on the floor to dance along with all of Sarah's 13 year old friends. It was a bat mitzvah miracle!