Prayer for a Bat Mitzvah According to Italian Ritual in Turin and Milan

teenaged girl in square in milan, italy

Hebrew Text taken from Zeved Habat by Aaron Cohen (Jerusalem, 1990).

The girls traditionally enter in a group, dressed in white and often wearing a crown of flowers on their hair, together with their families and friends. The ceremony takes place outside regular prayer services. The following prayer is said with the ark open, facing the Torah scrolls. The verses of the prayer are divided between the girls. Afterwards, the chief Rabbi addresses the girls.

Barukh atah eloheinu melekh ha’olam sh’gmalani kol tuv v’hechyani v’kimani lazman hazeh lavo ba’anashim ul’kabel ol mitzvotekha: Adonai Adonai el rachum v’chanun erekh apayim v’rav chesed ve’emet. Hinei hayom hachiloti geshet el heikhal kodsh’kha b’yiratkha l’histape’ach v’nachlatkha: Gam ki na’arah anokhi v’ein milah bilshoni mul k’vod rom’mutkha al na timaseni. Ki mipi ol’lim v’yonkim yisad’ta oz. Ut’novev l’shon g’mulei chalav va’atikei mishara’im l’hishtabecha bit’hilat’kha: el elohei haruchot l’khol basar mi khamokha moreh ham’lamed l’yisrael da’at: Mishamayim hishmata din. Torah tzivah lanu Mosheh morasha k’hilat Ya’akov. Hi chayeinu v’orekh yameinu: Ubameh t’zakeh na’arah archah lishmor kid’varkha: Yached l’vavi l’yirah et shimkha had’rikheni ba’amitekha l’hishta’asea b’chukei tzid’kekha uv’divrei kodsh’kha uv’limudei chokhmat’kha: adabrah neged hamta’atim v’lo evosh. B’shem elohei avotai edgol v’lo tikhbadna yadai. Tabanah s’fatai t’hilah l’hagdil torah ul’ha’adirah v ‘lo echesheh:

Et’paer b’shem yisrael v’lo ashaker be’emunati: B’yad’kha itotai uv’yadkha af’kid ruchi: Hach’limeni v’hachyeni lalekhet bidrakheikha b’lev shalem uv’nefesh chafetzha la’asot tz’dakah vachesed: Chaz’keni am’tzeni lihiyot me’avadekha had’vekim b’kha l’hodi’a barabim shimkha hagadol v’hanora: Umalah ha’aretz uveitkha yikare veit t’filah l’khol ha’amim: Barukh atah Adonai lamdeni chukekha.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe who has bestowed every goodness upon me, and who has kept me alive and sustained me to this season to become part of the people to accept the yoke of your commandments:

Hashem, Hashem, Lord, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in kindness and truth. Today, I have started to approach your holy sanctuary to cleave to your heritage. Even if I am a young girl and have no words to face the honor of your supremacy, please do not despise me. From the mouths of babes and sucklings, you have established your strength, God of all, who is like you who guides and teaches Israel knowledge? From the heavens you have emanated justice. Moshe commanded the Torah to us, an inheritance for the community of Jacob. It is our life and the length of our days. And how do you grant a young girl the privilege to keep your commandments? Attach my heart to your name and guide me in your truth to be engaged in the laws of your justice and in your holy words and in the words of your wisdom. I will speak out against the dishonest and misleading people, and will not be embarrassed. I will be a banner for the name of the God of my ancestors. My lips will express praise to magnify and glorify the Torah, and I will not be silent. I will be proud of the name of Israel and will not be dishonest in my beliefs. Hashem, into your hands I commend my spirit. Keep me alive so I may walk in your path wholeheartedly, and with a willing spirit do righteousness and loving kindness. Strengthen me to be among your servants who cleave to you, to introduce many to your great and glorious name. And the earth will be full and your house will be called the house of prayer for all the nations. Blessed are you, God, teach me your laws.

Published by JOFA,The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance The Orthodox Jewish Woman and Ritual: Options and Opportunities Bat Mitzvah, Used by permission of JOFA.

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