Build­ing a bat­mitz­vah

Make the most of your daugh­ter’s re­li­gious mile­stone, says Louisa Shul­man

The Jewish Chronicle - JC Magazine - - Contents -

THE BAT­MITZ­VAH dates back 2,300 years to the early to Ro­man Jewish com­mu­nity. Slightly later, there are doc­u­ments that record bat­mitz­vahs in Italy and Iraq in the mid-19th cen­tury. The first pub­lic celebration of a bat­mitz­vah in Amer­ica was in 1922, when Ju­dith Ka­plan, daugh­ter of Rabbi Morde­cai Ka­plan, read a por­tion of the To­rah in He­brew and English at her fa­ther’s syn­a­gogue in New York. To­day the bat­mitz­vah is widely cel­e­brated, al­though many still deem it to be of less sig­nif­i­cance than a bar­mitz­vah. What­ever your view, if you’re go­ing to cel­e­brate your daugh­ter’s pro­gres­sion into wom­an­hood, you will want to make it spe­cial.

If you be­long to an Or­tho­dox syn­a­gogue, your daugh­ter will not be in­vited to read from the To­rah on Shabbat morn­ing; you will usu­ally be of­fered a ser­vice that takes place ei­ther af­ter the main Shabbat ser­vice or on a Sun­day af­ter­noon. An al­ter­na­tive, though, is to in­cor­po­rate the bat­mitz­vah with the Hav­dalah ser­vice at the end of Shabbat. This lends it a spe­cial grav­i­tas — and ev­ery­one likes a can­dle-light­ing cer­e­mony.

Fa­thers usu­ally play a ma­jor role at a bar­mitz­vah, but at a bat­mitz­vah it is the mother’s chance to shine. The mother/daugh­ter re­la­tion­ship is ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant as a girl comes of age and a spe­cial way to high­light this is for the mother to de­liver a bless­ing or prayer to her daugh­ter. A quick web search of “Jewish mother’s bless­ing to daugh­ter” will bring up a host of read­ings and po­ems that you can adapt, or Joseph’s Book­store in Tem­ple For­tune is among those with suit­able books.

Be­ing the cen­tre of at­ten­tion can be daunt­ing for a young girl. Lots of prac­tice will help — and a run-through in the syn­a­gogue, if you can. Most young girls have sweet lit­tle voices and are not used to pro­ject­ing them (other than when they’re yelling at their par­ents/brothers/sis­ters!) so un­less the bat­mitz­vah is in an Or­tho­dox shul on Shabbat, ar­range for a mi­cro­phone. The same ap­plies for the speeches at the party. The trend to­day is for groups of friends to give a speech — it sim­ply doesn’t work if they’re all crowd­ing around one mi­cro­phone. If your daugh­ter is ner­vous about giv­ing a speech at the party, let her give it at the be­gin­ning of the evening, so that she can re­lax and en­joy her­self –—af­ter all, that’s the whole idea!

When it comes to par­ty­wear, things usu­ally go pretty smoothly un­til it comes to the shoes. You’ll want her in pumps; she’ll want Con­verse. Tell her you’ll agree to Con­verse for the party if she’ll agree to pumps for the ser­vice and the pho­tos. What you’ll save in ar­gu­ments more than out­weighs the cost.of buy­ing two pairs of shoes.

Can­dle-lit rit­ual or Con­verse-clad party? Both!

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