“Bar Mitzvah” and “Bat Mitzvah” literally mean “son of” or “daughter of the commandments”. “B’nei Mitzvah” is either the gender-neutral version, or the plural (ie., multiple children of any gender or boys specifically; “B’not mitzvah” refers to multiple girls).
When a Jewish child reaches the appropriate age, he or she automatically becomes responsible for his or her own actions, and earns the right to take on roles of religious leadership in the community. No service, party, speech, or prayer is required to reach this milestone. The Bat/Bar/B’nei Mitzvah ceremony, as observed in the synagogue, provides a framework for family and community to guide our children on their journey to becoming Jewish adults. It ensures that they have the skills necessary to take on these responsibilities, making informed Jewish choices as they continue on their religious journeys in the future. As well, it gives us the opportunity to celebrate the genuine achievements that come from preparing for this special event.