- Make a SiyumA celebration at the conclusion of a unit of study, such as completing a tractate of Mishna or Talmud. – A 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." is a time to solidify your commitment to 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. study. So start now! Many Bat Mitzvah girls have made siyumim of a sederLit. Order. The festive meal conducted on Passover night, in a specific order with specific rituals to symbolize aspects of the Exodus from Egypt. It is conducted following the haggadah, a book for this purpose. The mystics of Sefat also created a seder for Tu B'shvat, the new year of the trees. of MishnahThe first layer of Jewish oral law, written down in Palestine around 200 CE. The Mishna consists of six books or sedarim (orders), each of which contains seven to twelve tractates or masechtot (singular masechet). The books are Zeraim (Seeds), Moed (Festival), Nashim (Women), Nezikin (Damages), Kodashim (Holy Things), and Tehorot (Purities)., a chapter of GemaraOften used synonymously with Talmud, although the Talmud actually contains both the Gemara and the Mishna. The Gemara is the compendium of rabbinic thought collected and redacted in Babylon between 200 and 500 CE., or a book of Tanakh as a way of entering into Jewish adulthood.
- Have a Women’s TefillaLit. Prayer – Learn to layen, and celebrate this coming of age among female family and friends as you are called to the Torah.
- Adopt a Special Mitzvah As you become a “daughter of mitzvotLit. 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.",” choose a mitzvah that is special to you, learn about it, and take extra care in performing it throughout the year.
- Learn about your Ancestors – Use this new stage of life to reflect on where you came from. Ask your parents and grandparents about their lives growing up, and learn about your roots.
- Speak up in Synagogue – Many Bat Mitzvah girls now deliver the sermon in synagogue on the ShabbatShabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends. they celebrate their Bat Mitzvah. The Rabbi often calls the Bat Mitzvah girl to the pulpit and responds to her speech.
- Do a Community Service Project – What better way to prepare for acceptance of the mitzvot than to actively engage in them? In preparing for their Bat Mitzvot, girls have adopted community service projects, such as visiting old age homes, or feeding the homeless.
- Learn About Female Role Models – As you become Bat Mitzvah, it is important to have female role models to identify with. Bat Mitzvah girls have studied women in Tanakh, TalmudThe rabbinic compendium of lore and legend composed between 200 and 500 CE. Study of the Talmud is the focus of rabbinic scholarship. The Talmud has two versions, the main Babylonian version (Bavli) and the smaller Jerusalem version (Yerushalmi). It is written in Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic., and Medieval and Modern Jewish history.
- Write a prayer – Use this occasion to write a tefilahLit. Prayer. What are you thankful for? What are your hopes for the future? You can share it with others at your celebration, or keep it for yourself.
- Donate a percentage of your Bat Mitzvah Money to TzedakahCharity. In Hebrew, the word tzedakah derives from the word for justice. Tzedakah is not seen as emanating from the kindness of one’s heart but, rather, as a communal obligation. – You can start keeping mitzvot right away by giving maaser, 10% of the money from you receive as gifts for your Bat Mitzvah to a tzedakah that you choose. It will make you feel richer!
- Study Something Connected to your Name – Many Bat Mitzvah girls learn something connected to their name for their Bat Mitzvot. A girl named Ilana may study laws related to trees in Tanakh, and a girl named 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. may study the biblical Sarah, as well as famous Sarahs throughout Jewish history.
- Write it Out – After spending time studying a particular text or issue, write it up, and distribute it to the guests at your Bat Mitzvah. You and they will have it forever.
- Study Something Connected to the Time of your Bat Mitzvah – Develop a special connection with the Jewish calendar. If your Bat Mitzvah falls around Chanukah, study the laws and meaning of Chanukah. If it falls near a fast day, study the laws pertaining to fast days.
Published by JOFA,The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance The Orthodox Jewish Woman and Ritual: Options and Opportunities Bat Mitzvah, www.jofa.org. Used by permission of JOFA.