bar mitzvah


bar mitzvah (bar MITS-vuh) listen
bar mitzvah (bar meets-VAH) listen


  • n. The ceremony of a 13-year-old boy's entrance into adulthood in Jewish life.

  • n. A boy who has undergone or is undergoing his bar mitzvah ceremony.

  • adj. ('bar-mitzvahed') Having undergone one's bar mitzvah ceremony.

Example Sentences

  • "Treating bar/bat mitzvah as the goal and end point of Jewish education has degraded Hebrew learning, stifled efforts to expose students to the depth and meaning of communal worship, and led to high numbers of students dropping out of religious school immediately after the 'big day.'" (source)

  • "I was bar mitzvahed at that temple."

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew
  • Yiddish


  • TH בר מצווה > Y בר־מיצװה bar-mitsve

    • Who Uses This

      • Jews: Jews of diverse religious backgrounds and organizational involvements
      • Non-Jews: (words that have spread outside of Jewish networks)


      • North America
      • Great Britain
      • South Africa
      • Australia / New Zealand


      • The New Joys of Yiddish, by Leo Rosten and Lawrence Bush (New York, 2003[1968]).
      • The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, by Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, (Philadelphia, 2001).
      • The Joys of Hebrew, by Lewis Glinert (New York, 1992).
      • Dictionary of Jewish Usage: A Popular Guide to the Use of Jewish Terms, by Sol Steinmetz (Lanham, MD, 2005).

      Alternative Spellings

      bar mitsveh, bar mitzveh, bar mitzve, bar mitsvah, bar mitsva, bar mitzva, bar mitsve


  • plural: 'bar mitzvahs' or 'bnai mitzvah'

    "Today, the [plural] term may be used to refer to teens who 'share' their Bar Mitzvah date by reading Torah at the same Shabbat service. In the late 20th century, U.S. Jews often symbolically shared a B’nai Mitzvah with Soviet Jewish children who were unable to celebrate; this was known as twinning." (JPS)

    A common misunderstanding is that the "bar" here means "son of". It is Rabbinic Hebrew indicating "one to whom (a particular status or quality) applies" or "one who is involved in (a particular activity)".

    See also bat mitzvah and b mitzvah.

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