How can you have a secular bar mitzvah?


To the Editor:

I don’t question the right of secular and humanist Jews to define Judaism for themselves; however, it seems strange to call a ceremony devoid of references to God a bar or bat mitzvah. Mitzvah, in its original sense, means commandment (not a good deed), specifically behavior mandated by the Torah as interpreted by rabbis. To receive or follow a commandment requires the recipient or doer to accept the premise that there is a commander. Absent that acceptance, these Jews would demonstrate their integrity and respect for Jewish tradition by substituting some other term for their coming-of-age event.

Norman Sider
Indianapolis, Ind.

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