bar mitzvah


bar mitzvah (bar MITS-vah) listen
bar mitzvah (BAR mitz-VAH) listen


  • n. Jewish coming-of-age ceremony/celebration for a 13-year-old boy; the boy who has come of age.

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)

Languages of Origin

  • Textual Hebrew


  • בר מצווה

    • 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


  • Also used as a past participle: "I was bar mitzvahed at that temple."

    See also bat mitzvah and b mitzvah.

    Plural bar mitzvahs or bnai mitzvah / b'nai mitzvah (Heb. בני מצווה).

    A common incorrect understanding 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)".

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