Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bat Mitzvah for the Swinging 90s

Probably the most interesting thing I saw in the New York Times this morning was the piece on the nonagenarian bat mitzvah. Yep, you read that correctly.

Photo credit: David Ahntholz for The New York Times

At 94 she can be forgiven her fear that she might be seized by a senior moment or two as she stands on the bimah on Sunday to recite the section of the Torah that was read in synagogue on the Saturday closest to her 12th birthday. So can the other nine women who will take part in the bat mitzvah ceremony at the service in the synagogue of the Menorah Park senior residence in this Cleveland suburb.

The youngest, Mintsy Agin, will turn 90 in July. The oldest, Molly Kravitz, will celebrate her 97th birthday in August.

The women grew up in the shadow of the Great Depression, when bar mitzvah ceremonies for boys were weekly affairs but Jewish girls came of age without notice or fanfare.


A self-described “feminist all my life,” Evelyn Bonder, 90, said she “always thought girls should have the chance to participate” in something that Conservative, Orthodox and Reform congregations embraced in stages.

Ms. Agin said: “My daughter had a bat mitzvah. But it was on a Friday instead of a Saturday. It wasn’t held inside the synagogue, and she wasn’t allowed to read from the Torah.”

No comments: