At the service yesterday there was a bar mitzvah going on. Definitely the busiest I’ve seen it at synagogue, latecomers had trouble finding a seat.
Firstly, it was thoroughly cute that the family of the bar mitzvah were all wearing matching kippahs (yarmulkes). Apparently its a thing for custom kippahs to be made in honour of the bar mitzvah, like a wedding favour. My husband has a small stash from ones he has been to. A girl (bat) or boy (bar) becomes of the mitzvah when they reach the age of 13. However they don’t really get told that all they need to do is turn 13 to officially be one, because otherwise none of them would put as much effort in to studying Hebrew in order to read from the Torah.
The bar mitzvah was certainly the centre of everything, he and his family were honoured with reading several areas of the prayer service and also with performing most of the blessings over the Torah. The bar mitzvah also reads the haftarah, the part of the books of the prophets that is associated with the Torah reading of the week.
There is always a big feast after a bar mitzvah, apparently in the US it is common for it to be an extremely lavish affair. Obviously I didn’t go for the food as I wasn’t actually there for the bar mitzvah, just to go to the service.
When someone becomes a son or daughter of the mitzvah they are then counted as an adult for prayer services. Traditionally only males can make up a minyan (quorum of 10) required for a community service to go ahead. It marks a Jewish person’s entry into adulthood and is clearly an occasion marked with great celebration and joy.