A rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person’s transformation from one stage in their life to the next. For Jewish people, Bar and Bat Mitzvah is an important rite of passage marking a girl’s or boy’s transformation from a child to adult, traditionally age 12 for a girl and 13 for a boy.

Jewish people celebrate Bar and Bat Mitzvahs differently in countries all around the world.  In the UK, families traditionally celebrate after the synagogue service with a large party in the evening for friends and family.

  • What typical objects and symbols might you expect to find in a Jewish home?
  • If you have ever been to a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, describe what it was like.
  • If you have had your own Bar or Bat Mitzvah, recount the most memorable moments.
  • What big, family celebrations can you remember? What made them memorable?


Now watch this clip from The Bar Mitzvah Boy – you may wish to view it more than once. As you watch, try to identify the main stresses
for the characters. How is this similar and/or different to discussions in your family about a big, family celebration (eg. a baby blessing, a Bar Mitzvah, a wedding?)


 © All rights reserved BBC Motion Gallery; written by Jack Rosenthal; reproduced courtesy of all actors appearing in sequence.


  • How authentic is the representation of the Jewish home in this clip? Explain your answer and describe the key image from the clip that
    shows us we are in a Jewish home.
  • What clues are there as to when this film was made?  How does this affect how characters are represented?
  • From watching this clip, to what extent would you say this film is still relevant today to help understand the experience of preparing for Bar
    and Bat Mitzvah?


Talk to your parents, grandparents and/or senior family members. Did they have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah? If so, what do they remember about it? Were there arguments in the planning for it? What made the day special?

If no-one in your family had a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, what other rite of passage can they remember? Perhaps, a wedding? Or the birth of their first child transforming them into a parent for the first time? How did they celebrate this memorable event? What are their most vivid memories of the day? Use this worksheet to help you organise your ideas.