Saturday, September 22, 2012

A genuine Bar Mitzvah in Jerusalem

Walking through the Old City of Jerusalem just two weeks ago, living a Travelife, I was fortunate to encounter a real bar mitzvah in progress exactly on my route from the Jaffa Gate to the Wailing Wall

A group of family and friends of a young Israeli Jewish boy celebrated and accompanied the boy to the famous Wailing Wall, together with lots of music, merrymaking and fanfare.

What a wonderful glimpse into authentic Israeli life this was. And as we too were proceeding slowly to the Wailing Wall along the same general route, we were able to accompany them for most of the way, and to see how the group progressed.

The Bar Mitzvah is a Jewish coming-of-age ceremony that happens when a Jewish boy is around 13 years old. This is the age that he is considered accountable for his actions and to begin to understand the Torah, which is the Jewish equivalent of the Bible.

There are five books in the Torah that a Jewish boy who has come of age is supposed to know and understand by about the time he has his Bar Mitzvah.

A Jewish boy who has come of age is expected to become a proper member of the Jewish religious community and to more seriously practice the Jewish faith from this age onwards.

Typically, a Jewish family with a son who has come of age will accompany the boy to the Jewish temple with lots of fanfare and merrymaking. It is a happy and grand occasion for all, and the drumming and music that accompany the party of the Bar Mitzvah celebrant can be heard from far off.

Afterwards, the boy receives a certificate, and then his family ordinarily throws a party for family and close friends.

The boy will also receive commemorative gifts from family and friends on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah. Popular gifts include books, religious articles that will help the boy practice his worship more seriously, gift certificates and cash to be saved for higher education.

Every so often the group stopped to sing and dance and to hoist the young boy on someone's shoulders for more merrymaking along the way.

The singing and drumming were really so festive and loud that people in the surrounding neighborhoods all took notice -- and some of them even joined in.

Finally, Jerusalem's Wailing Wall was in sight -- both for the Bar Mitzvah group we had been walking alongside and for us. It had taken us practically the entire morning to leisurely make our way to the Wailing Wall from the outskirts of the Old City walls, stopping every so often to visit a place of interest along the way.

From here we proceeded to a very traditional Jewish restaurant for lunch. I guess the Bar Mitzvah group did the same to celebrate the happy occasion.

As for us, it was just another day in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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