In the words of Tevyeh from Fiddler on the Roof, “To life! To life! L’Chaim!” and life is surely something to celebrate. In Judaism there are a few milestones that call for a big celebration and who doesn’t love a good party. These three major times in that occur in hopefully everyone’s life are not only a celebration of the person reaching the milestone, but also of family and friends who come together to celebrate the birth, Bar or Bat Mitzvah, or wedding, as they are able to witness such a special occasion.
Brit Milah/Simchat Bat
Welcoming a new soul into this life is always a happy occasion and in Judaism, it is a time to get everyone together. For boys, when they reach eight days old (unless medical reasons determine otherwise) they have a Brit Milah. A Brit Milah is a naming ceremony with circumcision which actually dates back to the times of our forefather Abraham. Girls on the other hand have a Simchat Bat, which is simply a naming ceremony that traditionally occurs on the first day where the Torah is read (Monday, Wednesday, or Shabbat) after the baby is born. In Judaism, babies are generally named after those who have passed away according to Ashkenazi tradition or after the living according to Sephardi tradition. Either way, the Brit Milah and Simchat Bat are an exciting moment for the family.
A Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah is an exciting time in one’s life as this young one becomes an adult and accepts all of Judaism’s commandments upon themselves. Bar Mitzvahs happen when a boy turns 13 and reads from the Torah for the first time, and a Bat Mitzvah’s happen when a girl is 12 or 13. Sometimes the Bat Mitzvah girl will also read from the Torah depending on the family’s tradition, but many in Orthodox Judaism will learn something from the Tanach and then reads a brief description of what she learnt to everyone at her party. A Bar or Bat Mitzvah is something that does not need to be turned into a party but gives a good excuse to party!
A Jewish wedding is full of traditions that are known to many, such as breaking the glass at the end of ceremony which takes place under a Chuppah or wedding canopy, but did you know that Judaism actually has its own marriage contract called a Ketubah? Jewish weddings are an incredible experience and even include close family and friends in the actual ceremony as seven blessings are said under the Chuppah by the loved ones. A jewish wedding is something that shouldn’t be missed out on!
These are three of the largest celebrations that happen in Judaism and are not to be missed out on. There is nothing quite like waking up in the morning to welcome a baby into our nation, listening to a Bar Mitzvah boy or Bat Mitzvah girl read off something they have been studying for a year now, or having the honor of joining a wedding. Judaism celebrates life and will continue to do so, giving each and every person in this special nation that chance to shine.