bar mitzvah

Alternative Spellings

bar mitsva, bar mitzva, bar mitsve


  • 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.”" (

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


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


also used as a past participle: "I was bar mitzvahed at that temple." Plural bar mitzvahs or bnai mitzvah / b'nai mitzvah (Heb בני מצווה). Bar/bat mitzvah is a common way of referring to both. 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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