History of Bat Mitzvah

The bat mitzvah ceremony is of relatively recent vintage, with the first American observance in 1922.

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Indeed, by the end of the century, many Orthodox synagogues were doing the same kind of limited ceremony short of a full aliyah that Rabbi Kaplan had originally arranged for his daughter. And even among haredi ("ultra-Orthodox") communities, some girls' schools were holding a special breakfast for the class of 12-year-olds, to which mothers were invited. In some American haredi communities, each girl signs up for a Sunday near her birthday on which to have a lunch and speak a d'var Torah [talk on her Torah portion]. Some have proposed a party where the Bat Mitzvah might separate challah [set aside a portion of the dough in remembrance of for the first time, or do another mitzva particular to women. Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic communities celebrate a girl's becoming Bat Mitzvah with the girl choosing a teaching of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe to learn and discuss at a gathering of her friends and family.

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Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow

Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow directs the Shalom Center and is the author of numerous books, including Godwrestling, Godwrestling--Round 2, Seasons of Our Joy, The Bush is Burning, and These Holy Sparks.