At 13, a young Jewish man or woman becomes obligated to observe the commandments of Judaism. "bar/bat mitzvah" literally means "son/daughter of the commandments." The celebration of a bar/bat mitzvah signifies that the young man or woman is beginning and will continue to function as an active and responsible Jew in the synagogue and in the wider Jewish community.
Excerpted from What a Bar/Bat Mitzvah Guest Needs to Know, by Rabbi Daniel Kohn. Reprinted with permission from MyJewishLearning.com.
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ideas and Primer for Interfaith Families is also available as a PDF document.