ONLINERise Up: Bat Mitzvah at 100 – National Commemoration

Top Pick March 17, 2022 Free
Judith Kaplan Eisenstein
“No thunder sounded. No lightning struck,” recalled Judith Kaplan Eisenstein of her history-making 1922 bat mitzvah ceremony, the first in America. She is pictured here at her second bat mitzvah ceremony, where she was honored by a number of prominent Jewish women, including Betty Friedan and Letty Cottin Pogrebin. (Photo: The Ira and Judith Kaplan Eisenstein Reconstructionist Archives, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College)

One hundred years ago, the Society for the Advancement of Judaism (SAJ) held the first bat mitzvah in America. When Judith Kaplan recited verses in the men’s section of the SAJ, she had no idea that her actions would change the course of history.

The first bat mitzvah sparked a revolution of egalitarianism and inclusion in Jewish life. As increasing numbers of girls ascended the bimah, girls and women began to expect—even demand—access to ritual honors and synagogue leadership, and to begin to dream that they could have an equal voice as men in their community and beyond. The first bat mitzvah also paved the way for the celebration of people of all genders in Jewish ritual and life.

We will be joined by Dr. Carole Balin, a historian and scholar on bat mitzvah; Rabbi Sandy Sasso, the first female Reconstructionist rabbi and author of a children’s book about Judith Kaplan’s story, “Judy Leads the Way”; Rabbi Joy Levitt, a pioneering female rabbi and officiant of Judith Kaplan’s second bat mitzvah; and Rabbi Tamara Cohen, chief program officer at Moving Traditions. We will also feature a reenactment from “Judith Kaplan 1922,” a curated Instagram project about Judith Kaplan. Moderated by Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann of SAJ.

Co-sponsored by SAJ-Judaism That Stands for All, Jewish Women’s Archive and The Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan.

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Fact Sheet
Thursday, March 17, 2022, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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