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Adult B'nai Mitzvah Class

Raised as a Reform Jew before girls were allowed to read Torah from the bimah, I had no
idea how transformational it would be to stand before the congregation and raise my voice.
The class started me on a spiritual journey that actively continues to this day.

- 2008 B'nai Mitzvah Student

The concept of a Bar Mitzvah ceremony, the coming-of-age ritual for boys, can probably be traced back to the 14th Century. The first known girl in the US to become a Bat Mitzvah was Judith Kaplan, daughter of Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan in March 1922. In most Conservative and Reform synagogues it is now a standard practice to have both Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies. At TI, we also have "Kabbalat Mitzvah" for those who do not want a ceremony associated with a specific gender.

Since the early 1970’s, the role of women in TI synagogue ritual has steadily expanded. In 1990 the first adult Bat Mitzvah class was formed under Cynthia Peterman. Madeline Nesse took over the Anshei Mitzvah (Adult B’nai Mitzvah) class and coordinated it through May 2006. Since then, Rabbi Avis Miller taught three adult Bat Mitzvah classes, the most recent one culminating with a Shabbat ceremony in 2014.

TI continued the Adult B'nai Mitzvah tradition with a new series in the Spring of 2019. The class was taught by Rabbi Avis Miller of the Open Dor Foundation, along with TI member Janet Nesse, who supplemented class discussions with instruction in Hebrew and Torah chanting. It included people who never had a ceremony and those who had a ceremony as a young person but wish to study and understand our tradition as adults. The class covered Jewish beliefs, ethics, liturgy, holidays and life cycle events. Participants shared ideas and life experiences in class discussions, as they gained knowledge and skills, and met new companions for their Jewish journey.

Sun, December 3 2023 20 Kislev 5784