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Bat Mitzvah
A Jewish Girl's Coming of Age
Illustrated by Erika Weihs
ISBN: 0670860344, Hardcover, Viking, 1995
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ISBN: 0140375163, Paperback, Puffin, 1997
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Reading level: Ages 10 and up

 
Studying, singing, giving a speech, organizing social action projects: a twelve or thirteen-year-old girl who becomes a bat mitzvah is finding her place in a community, both spiritual and social. As she accepts the responsibilities of a Jewish adult, the bat mitzvah has many questions: What does she want from Judaism, from her community? What does she want to give?
 

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The first bat mitzvah ceremony was held only as recently as 1922. Without a binding centuries-old tradition to follow, girls can be innovative and creative in shaping their ceremonies, whether in Kaifeng, China, on a riverbank in Oregon, or at a tomb near Bethlehem. Barbara Diamond Goldin gives us real-life stories of girls and women, in their own voices. From the invisible, forgotten women of history to the first women rabbis of our time, and recent participants in unusual ceremonies, these first-person voices lead us to reexamine and recover the role of women in Judaism.
 
Excerpt from the Preface: "This book is for all those girls who are looking forward to their coming-of-age ceremony. It is also for their friends who are being invited to this ceremony and don't have a clue about what's going on, and for the parents and teachers of both."


Barbara and daughter Josee
Barbara and daughter Josee        

"In the first section, you will read about some of the women in Jewish history whose stories have come down to us. This section could have been a whole book in itself—there are so many more women we are learning about as we uncover women's history. The development of the bat mitzvah ceremony is part of this work of reexamining and recovering the role of women in Judaism—in history, in ritual, and today."
 
"In the second section, you will find out how girls prepare for their ceremony, what happens at the ceremony (or, What's going on up there? ), and what happens afterward. I have interviewed girls and women from all over the United States, and you'll be able to read what they have to say about becoming a bat mitzvah."
 

"You'll see that there are many variations in the whole process. However, a few things seem to be almost always the same - the girls or women are nervous beforehand and filled with pride afterward. They've worked hard, enjoyed being the center of attention, and felt it was a very important day in their lives, well worth all the work. Some, though not all, felt it was an experience that transformed them."
 
"The book to read on the subject...should have broad appeal." --School Library Journal
 
Selected as a Children's book of the Year by the Bank Street Child Study Children's Book Committee
 
This book is out of print in paperback and hardcover. Available in libraries and from stores and websites that sell out of print books, such as www.bibliofind.com.

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Text © 2001-2008 Barbara Diamond Goldin / Illustrations © 2001 Marylin Hafner
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