Why A Visit to Masada Is Essential For Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah Trip

November 13th 2013

Shalom Israel Tours Guide Yoni - Atop MasadaWhether you’re traveling to Israel to celebrate a Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah with a large group or a small number of friends and family members, a visit to Masada is essential. In recent generations, the desert fortress of Masada, rich with symbolism of Jewish identity’s strength, has been a magnet for honoring the Bar or Bat Mitzvah as a rite of passage.

Located atop a mesa facing the Dead Sea, Masada symbolizes the strength and unity of the Jewish people, who were able to withstand the siege of the Roman Legion here for three years. This is a power that comes not from large numbers, but rather from holding firm to beliefs – including the ability to retain ethics and dignity under challenging circumstances. This message of Jewish pride and strength of character can be extremely powerful for Bar and Bat Mitzvah-aged children who typically encounter peer pressure in their everyday lives.

An experienced tour guide will use the story of Masada to discuss Jewish identity and to ask young people to consider what they might have done if they were part of the group of defenders who heroically held off the Roman army for three years. Masada is an excellent place to explore how important Judaism is to the individual and to admire real Jewish heroes who were willing to defend their religious commitments and their nation. As the story of the personal sacrifice and passion of the defenders of Masada is told, a feeling of steadfast Jewish pride resonates.

At the archeological site, be sure to ask your tour guide to take you to the ledge where visitors can call out anything and be rewarded with an intense echo. It’s great fun. While you’re there, don’t miss the ancient palace with its mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) and the Roman camps at the bottom of the hill.

A visit to Masada can also include the Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony itself. The awesome views from the top of Masada and the ancient synagogue here combine to offer families an inspiring location in which to conduct their ceremony. For those families who prefer to have their son or daughter called to the Torah in an egalitarian minyan, Masada is ideal. Even if the actual Bar or Bat Mitzvah ceremony is held elsewhere, the story of Masada itself transmits a number of important Jewish values, making it a must-see attraction.