Reluctant Bar Mitzvah


Is a Jewish boy required to have a bar mitzvah?

We started sending our son to bar mitzvah lessons in May and he did not cooperate with the teacher. He was so difficult, the teacher quit after two lessons. Sooner after, we hired another tutor, who quit after four lessons for the same reason. Our son told the second instructor he wasn’t interested in a bar mitzvah and did not understand why he had to do what he was doing.

We are panicked now. His bar mitzvah is supposed to take place in November, and time to get him ready is running out. Our best efforts to find any further tutors have failed because he has resisted and proven to be a difficult kid.
We are distraught about this not just because of his behavior we can’t control, but also because this is the only opportunity we have for all our family to be together for at least 10 years. And by then, it is not likely all our older relatives will still be around.



  1. I am sorry to hear that you are having such trouble! With the help of God it will all pass and your
    son will grow to become an integral member of the Jewish nation.

    According to Jewish Law, becoming Bar Mitzvah requires nothing more than your son turning thirteen and one day. Even though it is the prevalent custom, there is actually no obligation for your son to read from the Torah. If you and your son are happy to do so, he can just be called up to the Torah to recite the short Blessings on Shabbat.

    In any event, because becoming Bar Mitzvah is an enormous milestone in the Jewish lifecycle, please allow me to suggest the following. Even if your son does not do anything in the Synagogue, you should make a celebration and invite all your family members to celebrate with you. If you do, I think that it would be the right moment to speak about what becoming Bar Mitzvah really means. Explain how the allegiance to living our lives according to the Torah has kept the Jewish People alive and vibrant despite all the best attempts of the other nations of the world to the contrary.

    Best wishes from the Team