Bat Mitzvah Book
Traditions and Celebrations for the Bat Mitzvah
To mark the completion of Matan's twelfth year, Matan decided to publish a collection of articles dealing with the Bat Mitzvah, the milestone marking a young woman's acceptance of mitzvot. The result was a book rich in content and wide in scope, covering the many issues surrounding the Bat Mitzvah in contemporary Judaism. The book will prove valuable to the girl becoming bat mitzvah and her family, as well as serving as a unique and enriching gift.
The Hebrew edition of the Bat Mitzvah book was edited by Sara Friedland Ben Arza. Dr. Ora Wiskind Elper modified the book for the English edition. It is 535 pages long, and is available in hard cover only. Traditions and Celebrations for the Bat Mitzvah can be purchased at the Matan offices:
Jerusalem: 30 Rashbag Street, Jerusalem 91080 Israel Phone:(02)679-8688 Fax:(02)679-8901 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ra'anana: Phone: 09-742-0077 Fax: 09-760-3697 E-mail: oshra@Matan.org.il
There exists no tradition for a Bat Mitzvah celebration. Apparently, it simply wasn't celebrated before the twentieth century. As a result, confusion regarding the Bat Mitzvah celebration abounds. In response to this need, the Bat Mitzvah book assembled, for the first time, articles and responsa from approximately fifty contributors who dealt with the Halakhic, philosophical, and educational aspects of the Bat Mitzvah.
This collection of articles strives to raise understanding about this milestone of every Jewish woman's life, through providing ideas, thoughts, concerns, and Halakhic opinions relating to the Bat Mitzvah celebration itself, as well as to preparations for it.
The essays in Traditions and Celebrations for the Bat Mitzvah fall into three general categories: Part I, 'Marking the Day and Celebrating the Event', presents the opinions of posekim, encouraging and opposing aspects of the bat mitzvah celebration itself. Responsa received from rabbis and educators who were asked for their views on appropriate ways to mark the bat mitzvah day are also included here. Other, specific issues concerning the bat mitzvah celebration considered in this section are the suitable locale and participants, a celebratory meal and its halakhic status as a seudat mitzvah, the parents' blessing 'baruch she-petarani' marking the young woman's acceptance of mitzvot, and bat mitzvah speeches, or derashot.
In effect, the bat mitzvah celebration itself is but a part of an extended process, in which the young woman prepares herself intellectually and emotionally for new social, personal and halakhic responsibilities. The experiences she gains in that important period before her bat mitzvah will continue to accompany her after the event as well, and aid her in future stages of her life. Part II, 'And Above All, Study Torah' contains essays exploring a rich variety of sources that can be studied with bat mitzvah girls. These essays are not geared for adolescents; rather, they have been collected here with the idea that their content may be of special interest to young women of bat mitzvah age. Teachers and parents can profitably use them as materials to be adapted and made relevant at an individual level, to respond to the specific tastes and concerns of their students and daughters. They may also serve as a basis for organized study in preparation for bat mitzvah, and afterwards. Finally, a wealth of ideas and directions for bat mitzvah speeches may be gleaned from them as well. This section begins with essays concerning prominent female persona of Jewish tradition, from biblical figures to modern women of valor. The second section addresses certain halakhic issues of particular relevance to women - observance of Rosh Hodesh, candle lighting, Torah study, Megillah reading and zimmun.
The guiding force in the conception of this anthology was the desire to seek out and discuss sources concerning women that could enrich the learning experience and Jewish identity formation of young women as they approach their bat mitzvah. In awareness of the crucial importance of a personal encounter with the sources, we have compiled Part III, 'Meaningful Preparation Through Active Participation'. These essays offer practical suggestions, guidelines and descriptions of actual frameworks within which the contents of this book can be implemented. Such contexts include the dynamic of a women's beit midrash, mother-daughter hevruta guided learning programs, tutor-student learning partners, composition of family booklets, and the unique nature of women's Torah learning in general.