A Christian Bar Mitzvah?

I’ve watched this video a few times and I’m still not sure how I feel about this.

Did you catch that? Trevor’s already turned 13, and they’ve decided to throw him a “bar mitzvah — a Christian bar mitzvah.”

Pastor Brian shows Trevor and Tara the tallit Trevor will wear at the bar mitzvah party.

Here’s what I’ve figured out from the video:

  • They’re having a bar mitzvah as a party, not as a religious life cycle event.
  • Mom’s Christian, dad has “Jewish heritage” (my sources tell me he was Jewish and converted to Christianity) and is a Christian pastor in Atlanta.
  • Mom’s “done her research” and believes a key part of the bar mitzvah is a Torah-shaped cake. Dad adds that it should be “Christ in the Torah” (to mark Christianity’s Jewish heritage, I think?).
  • Mom tells us a bar mitzvah marks the transition from being “a 13-year-old boy to a man,” but more accurately it’s marking going from a 12-year-old boy to a man.
  • Dad frames this as “more than a marker of time, it’s a social event.”
  • Neither parent is Jewish, but they believe their son will grow to be the “first Jewish, black president” of the USA.

As I said, I’m a bit confused by this.

And, with that confusion, I can’t decide what I think of a “Christian bar mitzvah.” The bar mitzvah traditionally marks a boy (or girl) taking status as an adult in the Jewish community. With that, they’re now able to perform commandments (mitzvot) reserved for adults, like being counted in a prayer quorum (10 adults needed to form a minyan for prayer services). The question posed on twitter was, “blatant misuse of Jewish ritual or can we choose to borrow from other faiths? If so, how?”

What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “A Christian Bar Mitzvah?

  1. Very confused with this. They aren’t interfaith. I understand wanting to mix faith because my children are American Vietnamese and American Russian mix but they are Jewish raised. I feel these people who want to have their “Christian Bar Mitzvah” is just looking for good or bad TV and a party.

  2. Oh my. If it weren’t so sad, it would be hilarious. I’m not offended, just curious and confused. There’s so much that is stupid and doesn’t make sense I don’t think one can be offended.

    That said, in a more respectful, informed, and actually interfaith context, I could imagine an interfaith Bar/Bat Mitzvah – a religous ceremony, not a party, that celebrated adult responsibilities of any religion.

  3. I suppose that if a Bar/Bat Mitzvah was done with the right intention it would be a good thing in the Christian community. Christianity is after all an off spring of Judaism. In the New Testament there is a passage that many Christians believe is the “Bar Mitzvah” of Jesus when he was 12. If Hebrew were taught from as early as possible this would be a good thing because many Chrstians do not understand or even connect the works, words and thoughts of Judaism and its history before the first century, with their texts and the fact that the New Testament was written by Jews from their point of view. It is necessary to realize that in the days of Jesus there was no Christianity. Reading the New Testament with Jewish eyes with a different historical perspective makes the New Testament a different book and brings light to many passages that are misunderstood.

  4. Watching this is insulting! I don’t think they are malicious just ridiculously ignorant. Talk to a rabbi and learn something before you go and try to do something like this for which you are not prepared. There is no reason to be doing this. It is just trying to find a reason to have a nice party. If you want to do that, fine, but don’t try to say it is a bar mitzvah.

  5. I think the “idea” of a Christian Bar Mitzvah is nice – Christianity comes from Judaism after all, and I think we should focus on our commonalities instead of dwelling on our differences. However, I think it’s offensive to want to participate in the the rite only a surface level (i.e.: not doing any of the work and preparation).

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