What Age Bar Mitzvah? What Age Bat Mitzvah?

Bmitzvah.org: B Mitzvah! The Bar and Bat Mitzvah (R)evolution continues

Please don’t undertake a Bar/bat mitzvah process of learning and planning a ritual and celebration just because everyone else is doing it, or because of parental or communal pressure. It is right to undertake Bar/bat mitzvah when one is developmentally willing, curious, and has the time to learn new things about being Jewish and about oneself.

Forced bar/bat mitzvah experiences result in trauma that can lead to negative feelings about one’s self and a desire for distance from being Jewish. In such a situation, the student is well-served by choosing to hold regular study periods with a Jewish mentor to continue to develop as a person and as a Jew, and to delay any ritual until it feels right. That said, however, the joys of Jewishing are to be found in family life and community, so if B-mitzvah is delayed, it is essential to remain connected by attending religious school, youth group, summer camp, and/or Jewish life mentoring.

One day both mentor and student will feel the time for a formal rite of passage is coming into focus. At that point, studies can shift to skills useful for the rite of passage. In the meantime, stay focused on what’s important -- exploring and creating a meaningful Jewish life that supports the challenging journey involved in growing up.

Copyright 2000 P'nai Yachadut-Reclaiming Judaism and Rabbi Goldie Milgram