A celebratory book of Jewish girls coming-of-age

Everyone has heard the bar mitzvah boy’s quintessential line, “Today I am a man.” But this year 40,000 Jewish girls in North America will celebrate bat mitzvahs with ceremonies that mark their religious coming-of-age. If you believe that the bat mitzvah got its start in the U.S. and has remained a typically American milestone, think again. This book contains personal stories from six continents, accounts of the joys and problems related to bat mitzvah in 78 countries. Today I am a Woman is a powerful reminder of the worldwide dispersion of the Jewish people, their diversity in a multitude of cultures, and the varied opportunities present for girls and women.

A heartfelt account of the first, and probably the last, bat mitzvah at the only synagogue in Indonesia; a moving bat mitzvah memory of World War II Italy; and an American bat mitzvah shared with girls in a Ukrainian orphanage - these are a few of the rich testimonies from bat mitzvah girls past and present, their parents and grandparents, and community and religious leaders.

Illustrated by evocative family photographs and introduced by the editors’ descriptions of the Jewish communities in which the bat mitzvah ceremonies took place, the stories reveal the various ways that Judaism defines this comparatively “new” rite of passage in a girl's life. This unusual and first-time compilation is an ideal keepsake for bat mitzvah celebrants, their families, and friends.

Table of Contents:

Preface\Shulamit Reinharz
Introduction\Barbara Vinick
Australia and New Zealand
Former Soviet Union, Former Yugoslavia, and Eastern Europe
Latin America
Middle East and North Africa
North America
Further Reading