Evangelicals are holding Christian versions of bar mitzvahs as part of a larger trend of increasing identification with Jews and Israel.
The New York Times Magazine (March 24) reports that the concept of the Christian bar mitzvah is carried out regardless of ethnicity and is seen as a Christ-centered coming of age ceremony. The boys are prepared for the ceremony by learning Hebrew and the scriptures, often under the guidance of a Messianic Jewish leader. The rabbis interviewed are divided on the practice, with some taking a tolerant attitude toward such borrowing, especially as it is accompanied by support for Israel, and others viewing it as poaching on the Jewish religion.
The article notes that for the past two decades, evangelicals have borrowed traditions and trappings of Judaism—from holding seders to being married under chuppahs and wearing prayer shawls over their clothes.