February 23, 2022
Mazel Tov and Siman Tov! We’re celebrating a Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat! Aliyah Dinits will lead our congregation in prayer and song, starting with Kabbalat Shabbat services this Friday night, and then she will be called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah Saturday morning.
This will be the fifth Bat Mitzvah since July, 2019, when I began as the Spiritual Leader. Celeste and Lily Shapiro, Lucy Rappaport, and Akiva Barry precede Aliyah, having taken their place before the congregation as prayer leaders and Torah readers. They recited the blessings over the Torah, the moment that marks them as adults in the Jewish community. And they have shared their drashot with the congregation, their own unique perspective and brief teaching on the weekly Torah portion.
So while B’not Mitzvah (plural of Bat Mitzvah) are clearly a regular occurrence at CBI, the experience of being female and having a bat mitzvah is a relatively new experience. In fact we are marking an important milestone in Jewish history. Almost exactly 100 years ago, on March 18, 1922, Judith Kaplan, daughter of Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, paved the way for thousands of Jewish women by becoming the first Bat Mitzvah in the United States. This life cycle event for girls did not take off right away. For many years, a Bat Mitzvah for girls was ritually different than a Bar Mitzvah for boys. One major difference was that the Bat Mitzvah typically occurred on a Friday night rather than Saturday morning. Of course this meant there was no Torah reading as part of the ritual. It has only been in the last couple of decades that a Bat Mitzvah held the same status and ritual components as a Bar Mitzvah.
On Saturday morning, Aliyah will lead the Shabbat morning prayers and chant from the Torah. She will also share her drash, summarizing the weekly Torah portion,what she has learned from it, and most importantly what she wants to teach us about it. We look forward to celebrating this simcha with Aliyah and her family. And we celebrate the freedom and equal opportunity Aliyah has to take her place as an adult in the Jewish community and be recognized as a Bat Mitzvah.