The Schmooze

The Sisterhood of Bat Mitzvah

On Monday, Shulamit Reinharz and Barbara Vinick wrote about the history of the bat mitzvah. Today, Barbara Vinick writes about her own experiences. Their blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


I didn’t have a bat mitzvah, the ceremony that marks the coming of age of Jewish girls. When I reached 13 in the 1950s, girls who attended three-day-a-week Hebrew School at our suburban Conservative synagogue north of Boston did not have that option. In those post-World War II years before the second wave of feminism, a public coming of age ceremony at Temple Beth El was strictly the realm of the boys. I didn’t really mind being excluded. After all, who wanted to go to special practice sessions with the cantor all year?

Not me. And the thought of chanting Hebrew and giving a speech in front of an audience of my parents’ friends gave me chills. Ditto for a party with boys; I’d rather read a book. So I was relieved, even if I had to forgo the presents.

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The Sisterhood of Bat Mitzvah

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