The siddur party, or mesibat siddur, takes place toward the end of the first year of school once children have mastered the basics of reading. From Tel Aviv to California to Uzbekistan, children dress up, perform, and receive a new and decorated siddur from their teacher.
At my daughter’s mesibat siddur, her teacher blessed the girls that even when they are grandmothers, they should pray with the same wholeheartedness that they do today.
Although it is not known when the first siddur party took place, it is apparently a product of religious Zionism. Linking Hebrew literacy to prayer implies that the same skills we need to live productive lives in the secular sphere are also needed for a religiously fulfilling life. Perhaps the most moving aspect of a siddur party is the egalitarian message that once you have joined the ranks of those who pray, there is no hierarchy; we all stand before God together.