Toward A Meaningful Bat Mitzvah
Edited by Nancy Wolfson-Moche
with photographs by Maurice Weiss,
including text by Rabbi Saul Berman,
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg and Blu Greenberg.
Published by Targum Shlishi
45 pages $14.95, available at local and online bookstores
Judaism is not unique in its male-dominated approach to religious ritual. Also not unique is the relatively recent addition of women to the Jewish clergy, and its subsequent growth. What is unique is the recent increase in feminism among Orthodox Jewish women, and the rise of Orthodox women’s prayer groups all over the world. Embracing that spirit, the soon-to-be-released Toward A Meaningful Bat Mitzvah is a handbook for traditional Jewish families who want to make their daughter’s bat mitzvah a memorable and enriching experience.
Toward A Meaningful Bat Mitzvah is a bold new look at this important rite of passage within the context of the twenty first century. It details one traditional family’s story as they strive to give their daughter the opportunity to lead a prayer service and read from the Torah for her bat mitzvah, while remaining within their Orthodox community. It includes moving accounts of the innovative solution forged by this family and the affect it had on the entire community, with an overview and history of the bat mitzvah ritual by renowned author and Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) president, Blu Greenberg.
“The history of Jewish women’s ritual is being written in our lifetime, and perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in celebration of bat mitzvah,” Greenberg writes. The book offers tools for other families in the same predicament, including suggested alternatives to the “classic” Orthodox bat mitzvah, guidance on how to put together a women’s prayer service, and a national resource list. It also considers the legal ramifications of a woman leading other women in prayer and reading from the Torah. Two highly esteemed and liberally oriented Orthodox rabbis, Saul Berman and Yitz Greenberg, explore ways to approach the salient legal issues.
The book is published by TARGUM SHLISHI, a Miami-based foundation established in 1992 by Aryeh and Raquel Rubin. All proceeds from sales of the book will be donated to Jewish women’s educational organizations. The foundation will distribute three thousand copies of Toward A Meaningful Bat Mitzvah, free of charge, to Jewish day schools and synagogues across the country. Targum Shlishi is dedicated to providing a range of creative solutions to problems facing Jewry today. The foundation’s initiatives are designed to stimulate the development of new ideas and innovative strategies that will enable Jewish life, its culture, and its traditions to continue to flourish. It operates on the conviction that dynamic change and adaptation have historically been crucial to a vibrant and relevant Judaism and to the survival of its people.