According to Jewish law, when Jewish children reach 13 years old for boys and 12 years old for girls they become responsible for their actions, and “become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah” (English:Daughter (Bat) or Son (Bar) of the commandments). In many Conservative and Reform synagogues, girls celebrate becoming a Bat Mitzvah at age 13, along with boys. This also coincides with physical puberty. Prior to this, the child’s parents hold the responsibility for the child’s adherence to Jewish law and tradition and, after this age, children bear their own responsibility for Jewish ritual law, tradition, and ethics and are privileged to participate in all areas of Jewish community life.
In Orthodox Jewish observance, the occasion of becoming a Bar Mitzvah involves the young man being called to read the Torah, a Haftarah portion, or both at a Shabbat or other service (Thursday morning, Monday morning or a festival) when the Torah is read, and may also involve giving a d’var Torah, a discussion of that week’s Torah portion. In non-Orthodox congregations a Bat Mitzvah may include a similar service for a woman. Precisely what the Bar/Bat Mitzvah may do during the service varies in Judaism’s different denominations and can also depend on the specific practices of various congregations. Regardless of the nature of the celebration, males become entirely culpable and responsible for following Jewish law once they reach the age of 13, and females once they reach the age of 12.