The rite of passage from childhood to adulthood is a turning point in many cultures. A Jewish boy becomes a bar mitzvah (literally, "son of the commandment") at the age of thirteen. He must recite a portion of the Torah in the synagogue, and later give a speech on a biblical or an ethical subject either in the temple or at home.

In this scene, the proud mother and the maid are the only women in a sea of men. All listen intently to the bar mitzvah boys' discourse and await the celebratory meal. A picture of Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-86) demonstrates the family's patriotism. Again, Oppenheim adds a vernacular touch--the kitten tugs on the tassels of the prayer shawl newly acquired by the young man.


  • Title: The Bar Mitzvah Discourse (Bar-Mizwa-Vortag)
  • Creator: Moritz Daniel Oppenheim
  • Date Created: 1869
  • Location: Germany, Europe
  • Physical Dimensions: 23 × 26 1/4 in. (58.4 × 66.7 cm)
  • Provenance: the artist's family (after 1866; sold to Hermann Cramer); Hermann Cramer, Frankfurt, Germany (until d. 1919); his wife, Hedwig Cramer, Frankfurt, Germany (1919-d. 1934); her son, Sally H. Cramer, Hamburg, Germany, later London, England (1934-d. 1952); his son, Robert Cramer (1952); [sale, ?London, England, about 1952]?.Oscar Gruss, New York, NY (until 1999)
  • Type: Paintings
  • Rights: https://thejewishmuseum.org/about-this-site#terms-conditions
  • External Link: View this object at thejewishmuseum.org
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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