I’m Getting Bat Mitzvahed on Birthright
A Tableteer explains why she’s taking the plunge, along with a dozen others on the bus
Take one look at me and there’s no doubting my womanhood. But when Yoav, our group leader, began tonight’s program with the question: “How many people here have not been bar or bat mitzvahed? Don’t be embarrassed,” I was one of the dozen or so whose hands sprang up unapologetically.
But I was caught off guard when he continued: “How many people would like to be bar or bat mitzvahed here on this trip?” A few tentative hands were raised. Mine was not among them.
While I’ve explored my Judaism through my writing and art, because of my family’s past in the Soviet Union, I grew up in a nonobservant family. Having a bat mitzvah just wasn’t something I had ever imagined doing until tonight. In fact, the first thought that came to my mind was I can’t make this decision myself, I need to talk to my mother—an urge I haven’t felt in a long time.
But the more I thought about it, the more the idea appealed to me. Last year, my 12-year-old sister had the first bat mitzvah in my family since the onset of totalitarian communism in the old country. My knee-jerk reaction to call my mother was not the result of spending the past 72 hours with Jews, but also that my having a bat mitzvah would be a way to further honor her, a single refusnik mother who risked her life to save mine. (This has been a good month for her.)
Having spent a good amount of time in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago as a kid, I know that it’s appropriate to demand presents on this occasion. So, dear readers, this Saturday I’m officially becoming a woman at 26 years old, and I like gift cards.
In all seriousness, when it dawned on me that my ceremony—to take place in the basement of our grungy Jerusalem hotel—will fall exactly a year after the week of my sister’s bat mitzvah, I can honestly say that I’ve never been so excited about my personal Judaism. Birthright mission accomplished?
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180
WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.
I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.
We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.