by Rabbi Sara Brandes
Brin and Stephanie will both celebrate their Bat Mitzvah this year, but they could not be more different. Stephanie can’t wait. Brin would rather not. Stephanie sees the event as the culmination of her years of Hebrew school, which she has loved for the most part. Brin is doing this because her parents are making her. However, both Stephanie and Brin share their hopes and their fears about the big day in their Rosh Hodesh: It’s A Girl Thing!group.
Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing!, the cornerstone program of Moving Traditions, brings ‘tween and teen girls into micro-communities, facilitated by a trained adult mentor, to engage in Jewish ritual and grow up together. As California Director of Moving Traditions, I observe first-hand a number of the key findings of Ma’yan’s study, “It’s Actually a Pretty Big Deal: Girls Narratives of Contemporary Bat Mitzvah,” as shared by Dr. Beth Copper Benjamin in her article “Standing Up for Girls.” Listening in on our groups, it’s clear that a Bat Mitzvah ceremony, regardless of denomination, are equal parts religious ritual and cultural phenomenon. Its meaning, as Dr. Cooper Benjamin states, “is bound up with the ways girls are negotiating femininity in the crucible of puberty and at the edge of adolescence.”