For honoring Bat MitzvahLit. Commandment. It is traditionally held that there are 613 mitzvot (plural) in Judaism, both postive commandments (mandating actions) and negative commandments (prohibiting actions). Mitzvah has also become colloquially assumed to mean the idea of a “good deed." Pioneers, those who were among the first at your congregation to have a Bat Mitzvah or were the firsts in the congregations in which they were raised:
May the One who Blessed our Ancestors, SarahThe first matriarch, wife of Abraham, and mother of Isaac, whom she birthed at the age of 90. Sarah, in Rabbinic tradition, is considered holy, beautiful, and hospitable. Many prayers, particularly the Amidah (the central silent prayer), refer to God as Magen Avraham – protector of Abraham. Many Jews now add: pokehd or ezrat Sarah – guardian or helper of Sarah., RebeccaThe second Jewish matriarch, Isaac's wife, and mother to Jacob and Esau. Rebecca is an active parent, talking to God when she is pregnant and learning the fate of her children, then ultimately manipulating Isaac and the children to ensure Jacob's ascendancy. Her Hebrew name is Rivka., LeahThe third of the Jewish matriarchs, Lead is the eldest of Lavan's daughters and one of the wives of Jacob. She is the daughter whom Lavan tricks Jacob into marrying instead of his younger daughter Rachel, whom Jacob has requested to marry. Leah is mother to six of the the twelve tribes and to one daughter, Dinah., and RachelLavan's younger daughter and Jacob's beloved wife second wife (after he is initially tricked into marrying her older sister, Leah). Rachel grieves throughout her life that she is barren while Leah is so fertile. Ultimately, Rachel gives birth to Joseph and dies in childbirth with Benjamin. Rachel is remembered as compassionate (she is said to still weep for her children), and infertile women often invoke Rachel as a kind of intercessor and visit her tomb on the road to Bethlehem., MiriamMiriam is the sister of Moses and Aaron. As Moses' and Aaron's sister she, according to midrash, prophesies Moses' role and helps secure it by watching over the young baby, seeing to it that Pharaoh's daughter takes him and that the baby is returned to his mother for nursing. During the Israelites' trek through the desert, a magical well given on her behalf travels with the Israelites, providing water, healing, and sustenance., AvigailOne of David's wives and a prophetess, known for her cleverness and beauty. She has the longest continous monologue of any woman in Hebrew scripture. Her Hebrew name is Avigail., RuthAn important female biblical character with her own book. The Book of Ruth, read on Shavuot, tells the story of Ruth’s devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and their return to Israel. Ruth’s story is often read as the first story of conversion. Ruth is the grandmother of King David. and EstherHeroine of the Purim story and Megillat (the scroll of) Esther. She is married to the king by her cousin Mordecai and ultimately saves her people from execution., bless [name all who are present for the Aliyah] who has/have risen today in honor of TorahThe Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general., in honor of community, in honor of the Holy One, and in honor of her/their pioneering first bat mitzvah at [name of congregation] in [year].
On the 100th anniversary of the first Bat Mitzvah, we are grateful for those brave women in our congregation and beyond who initiated Bat Mitzvah in communities across North America for generations to come. We honor you today, and celebrate your chutzpah and commitment, and your willingness, like JudithJudith saved her people by seducing Holofernes, the enemy general, and then decapitating him. The story of Judith, found in the apocrypha, is associated with Chanukah (relating to the tradition of eating cheese dishes because she seduced the general and fed him dairy). Her Hebrew name is Yehudit. Kaplan, to step forward as a Bat Mitzvah when there were no others in front of you to lead the way.
May you be blessed with satisfaction, as you see young girls, women, and people of all genders walk the path that you helped forge and take their place in Jewish life. May you find continued success in all of your labors, and be granted health and joy along with all your sisters among the people of IsraelLit. ''the one who struggles with God.'' Israel means many things. It is first used with reference to Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29), the one who struggles with God. Jacob's children, the Jewish people, become B'nai Israel, the children of Israel. The name also refers to the land of Israel and the State of Israel. and the world, and let us say: Amen.
For honoring pioneering female leadership in all areas of your community (first female Chairs of the Board, Chairs of various committees):
May the One who Blessed our Ancestors, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel, bless all who have risen today in honor of Torah, in honor of the Holy One, in honor of community, and in honor of the 100th anniversary of Bat Mitzvah.
After Judith Kaplan rose as the first Bat Mitzvah, girls and women across North America organized for greater participation in all areas of Jewish life. We celebrate all those pioneers in our synagogue who came forward like our ancestor Miriam to lead our community. [You can name individuals and the positions they filled, i.e. First Female Treasurer, First Female Board Chair, first female Rabbi/Cantor]
We honor your leadership, vision, and commitment. May you be kept and held in blessing. May you continue to see the fruits of your labor in the blossoming of our community. May you be granted health and kept from all harm, along with all of your siblings in the people of Israel, and the world, and we say: Amen.
For honoring a class of Adult B’not/B’nei Mitzvah in your community:
May the One who Blessed our Ancestors Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel, Miriam, Avigail, Ruth and Esther bless all who have risen today in honor of Torah, in honor of the Holy One, in honor of community, and in honor of your [upcoming] adult B’not/B’nei Mitzvah.
On this 100th anniversary of Bat Mitzvah, we remember that in the course of Jewish history, bat mitzvah is only a recent phenomenon. We give thanks for Judith Kaplan and for all those pioneers who established Bat Mitzvah for generations to come. We honor those who came before us, who paved a way for us [and for other adult Jews] to follow in their footsteps and claim our rightful place in Jewish tradition and community.
Hodu L’aDonai Ki Tov, Ki L’olam Hasdo! Exclaim praise to the One for God is good. God’s lovingkindness is eternal.
By the merit of coming to the Torah, may you draw closer to the Holy One. May your lives be enriched by the bonds of tradition and community. May you know blessings of success and health, along with all of your siblings in the people of Israel and let us say: Amen.
For honoring upcoming B’not or B*Mitzvahs during the anniversary year:
May the One who Blessed our Ancestors Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel, Miriam, Avigail, Ruth and Esther bless all who have risen today in honor of Torah, in honor of the Holy One, in honor of community, and in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Bat Mitzvah.
We give thanks for our ancestors who walked this path before us. For Judith Kaplan and for all those other Bat Mitzvah pioneers in your congregations or in your families who enabled you to come before the Torah in celebration of your B’not/B*Mitzvahs. Together may we build on the legacy you inherited and shape a Jewish future in which every voice is valued and heard, in which people of all genders contribute to the ongoing revelation of Torah. May you be blessed with inspiration, insight, joy, and compassion. May you be blessed with health of mind, body, and spirit, along with all your families and your community, and let us say Amen.
Mi Sheberach for Transgender & Non-Binary B*Mitzvah Pioneers:
May the One who Blessed our Ancestors AbrahamAbraham is the first patriarch and the father of the Jewish people. He is the husband of Sarah and the father of Isaac and Ishmael. God's covenant - that we will be a great people and inherit the land of Israel - begins with Abraham and is marked by his circumcision, the first in Jewish history. His Hebrew name is Avraham., IsaacAbraham and Sarah's much-longed-for son and the second Jewish patriarch. Isaac is nearly sacrificed by his father at God's command (Genesis 22). He is married to Rebecca and is the father of Esau and Jacob. His Hebrew name is Yitzchak., and JacobLit. heel Jacob is the third patriarch, son of Isaac and Rebecca, and father to the twelve tribes of Israel. More than any of the other patriarchs, Jacob wrestles with God and evolves from a deceitful, deal-making young man to a mature, faithful partner to God. His Hebrew name is Yaakov., Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel bless all who have risen today in honor of Torah, in honor of the Holy One, in honor of community, and in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Bat Mitzvah.
When Judith Kaplan rose as the first Bat Mitzvah in 1922, she not only initiated Bat Mitzvah, she opened the door for people of all genders to rise and claim their rightful place within the Jewish community. We give thanks for her bravery and for the courage and vision of those transgender and non-binary Jews who, like Judith Kapan, stepped forward when there were no others in front of you to lead the way.
There is much more work to be done to make the Jewish community a place where Jews of all sexual orientations and gender identities feel safe and celebrated. Let us commit: Olam HesedLit. Kindness It is said in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) that the world stands on three things: Torah (learning), Avodah (worship), and Gemilut Hasidim (acts of kindness). Yibane. We will build this world from love.
May all the transgender and non-binary pioneers of Bat & B*Mitzvah continue to be blessed and kept from all safety and harm. May you/they be blessed to know health, happiness, and joy, along with all of their siblings in the people of Israel and the world, and let us say Amen.
A project of SAJ-Judaism that Stands for All and the Jewish Women’s Archive. Learn more here. Join the kick-off event on 3/17/22.