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5 Family Traditions for Daughters

Bat mitzvah
A girl reads from the Torah at her bat mitzvah.
A girl reads from the Torah at her bat mitzvah.
Tim Klein/Getty Images

One of the most well-known Jewish traditions honors boys' and girls' transition from religious adolescence to adulthood. Jewish law dictates that at the age of 13, boys become responsible for their morality and obeying the 613 mitzvots, or commandments. In making this transition, they usually recite part of the Torah in front of the congregation, and following a tradition that began in the 19th century, the service is followed by a celebration.

Reform Judaism and its more liberal approach to gender equality brought about the bat mitzvah, which translates from Hebrew to “daughter of the commandment.” Bat mitzvahs share the same religious components and Torah recitation as boys’ bar mitzvahs. However, since girls tend to mature faster than boys, Jewish law allows bat mitzvahs to happen at age 12 instead of 13 [source: Meacham]. Similar to a quinceañera celebration, the bat mitzvah religious ceremony precedes a more traditional birthday party hosted by the 12-year-old’s family. The Jewish Women’s Archive notes that the first known bat mitzvah in the United States took place in 1922, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that they became common among all Jewish denominations [source: Hyman].

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