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Why Can't My Daughter Have a Real Bat Mitzvah?

Why Can't My Daughter Have a Real Bat Mitzvah?

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Question:

I have been very moved after attending services at my local Chabad. I would consider sending my children to their Hebrew school program, but have several reservations.

My wife and I both want our daughters to grow up feeling that they are equal, and able to achieve anything.

We are stuck by the idea that they cannot go to the bimah, read from the torah, or have a bat mitzvah. How do I get past this, or is this just the way it is?

Thank you.

Answer:

Thank you very much for sharing. In Judaism, the roles for men and women are quite clear-cut, there are some things that a man can't do but a woman can, and vice versa. This is no indication that one or the other is inferior.

Women don't have to be like men, and men don't have to be like women, every single creation has a purpose in this world, a purpose which no one else but him or her can accomplish — a rock need only be a rock not a tree.

Every one of our actions has a spiritual ramification and effect which we don't necessarily see. Why doesn't a woman need a brit milah (circumcision)? Because a woman does not need the spiritual elevation of milah, or a kippah for that matter. Nor does she need an aliyah to the Torah. The word "aliyah" means to be called up, be elevated; a woman does not need the public elevation which comes from being called up to the Torah. This is because she is either naturally elevated due to her unique spiritually sensitive feminine soul, or because she achieves elevation through observing those special mitzvot which are designed to elevate the Jewish woman.

Our woman's site contains many articles which elaborate on and will further clarify this aforementioned idea.

Lastly, a woman definitely can and should have a bat mitzvah, but it should be a bat mitzvah, not a bar mitzvah. As she is celebrating being a woman, not a man... Here are some suggestions on how to celebrate a bat mitzvah:

As bat mitzvah is the moment when a Jewish girl becomes a woman, you and your daughter may want to focus on the mitzvot which are particularly pertinent to women, such as lighting Shabbat candles, and challah. Click here for some inspirational articles on these subjects.

Chani Benjaminson is co-director of Chabad of the South Coast, coordinator of Chabad’s Ask the Rabbi and Feedback departments, and is a member of the editorial staff of Chabad.org.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Bob Matzel NY November 30, 2016

My nephew, whose parents are very strict in their practice of Judaism (his father wears a black hat to the table), did not have a typical Bar Mitzvah. He did not read the parsha, and the party dairy food only and held on Sunday morning. He gave a dvar torah, and that was it. They consider the Torah reading to be a waste of time. You send a whole year preparing for something that takes 1 hour, and that you never bother to do again, all at the expense of learning other things. Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for Chabad.org January 21, 2016

Re: Women in the Synagogue With regards to the question about a women's role in the synagogue and specifically prayer and Torah reading see Women in the Synagogue- An Answer to the Controversy Reply

Anonymous USA August 24, 2015

Regarding your response of a parental concern over the disallowance of a bas mitzvah youngster entering spiritually adulthood, an important reply was clearly missing. The Torah was given to all Jews, so how or where is it written in the Torah anywhere that a woman is not to read from the Torah scroll, wherever it may be? Is this a rabbinical decree, or whose commentary of note(worthy)?

A succinct reply would be appreciated. Reply

Lisa Providence, RI November 18, 2014

Daughter's Bat Mitzvah When I commented on this article, I had no intention of upsetting anyone!

I'm Reform, but I've studied Orthodox Judaism, and I'm sad about the lack of equality between the genders.

I also believe that everyone should have some say in their own lives about becoming "an adult in the religious sense." Reply

Dgould January 2, 2014

Tolerance Vs. Accept Ok. Meira makes some good points. Language is a funny thing. I guess she's right that when I hear someone say, "Yes, I tolerate him" it sounds like its hard and "if he pushes it too much they may not tolerate him any more, etc."

But, when it comes to having tolerance for a people or a religion, it always seems more loving more "accepting" of others. "Johnny, you must learn to have tolerance of all people even if they are different than you.".

So when it comes to the Museum of Tolerance, I never thought, "What a horrible name." I just thought, "Thank G-d it exists to remind people of the "intolerance" and atrocities perpetrated on Jews and all people who are different than the overall majority.

I do know I'll stop and pause from this day on to contemplate this discourse on Chabad.com Reply

Meira Shana San Diego January 2, 2014

Tolerate me or Accept me Words aren't just words -- they mean everything, even according to Judaism.

Gossip is only words but very much frowned upon in Judaism.

So, for me, just because the word 'tolerate' seems to mean acceptance the majority of people use it as 'well, I don't like that person but I will put up with him' is not the same as saying "I accept that person's right to ..."

Do Christians accept Jews or tolerate them? Hmmmm.

Do Jews accept Christians or tolerate them?

Just because it's in the dictionary doesn't mean it's correct. The word ain't was never in the dictionary until it because common usage - now it's a word in the dictionary.

"To whom are you speaking" is proper grammar but most people say 'who are you talking to" -- and soon, grammar will be a thing of the Past.

To some 'schmuck' is 'jerk' - but to others it's a male penis said in a derogatory way.

I would prefer to be accepted and not tolerated. If you need to tolerate me, I'm outta here! LOL Reply

DGould December 28, 2013

Tolerance vs. Accept When I read Meira's response to the use of the word Tolerance, initially my reaction was to think, "Hmmm, that's an interesting point." But being one to like to research and learn, I thought I'd look up some definitions.

Maybe the word tolerate is misused. Living in a country made up of 90% Christians, I don't think they will ever accept Judaism but I'm happy w/ tolerance

Tolerance: To be willing to tolerate

so I moved on to the word tolerate

Tolerate: tr.v. tol·er·at·ed, tol·er·at·ing, tol·er·ates. 1. To allow without prohibiting or opposing; permit. 2. To recognize and respect (the rights, beliefs, or practices of others).

accept [ak-sept] verb (used with object)
1.to take or receive (something offered); receive with approval or favor:
to accept a present; to accept a proposal. 2. to agree or consent to; accede to:
to accept a treaty; to accept an apology. 3. to respond or answer affirmatively to:
to accept an invitation.4. to undertake the responsibility, Reply

Anonymous Atlanta, Georgia April 16, 2012

Men and Women Men are required to pray because, as men, they feel a constant and overwhelming sense of responsibility for protecting and providing for those around them. This sense of responsibility can lead to a feeling that the world depends upon them. In a minyan, in prayer, a man must tie his strong hand and hang the Torah between his eyes to make him pay attention to the fact that he is not G-d. The world can and will go on without him. He needs to grasp his mortality and his limits.

Women, although they also feel responsible to those around them do not have the pressure that men have. They understand their spiritual self, and they know how to feed that self with prayer. They do not need to be forced to pray with others, to tie their hands, to hang the Torah between their eyes because they know they are not G-d.

Women are more free. They are not equal. They should not accept the ways of men because to do so is to step down, spiritually.

Minyan is not a privledge, it is an obligation. Reply

Meira Shana Vista, CA January 24, 2012

Tolerance This is a word that should be better understood - and then carefully used as little as possible.

I do not want anyone to 'tolerate' me -- to put up with me. I deserve acceptance, just as I accept others who have differing opinions and idea and religions -- as long as their differences do not harm me.

Museum of Tolerance -- what an awful name! Why not Museum of Acceptance??

Hatred is taught in subliminal ways and words used are important.

'should' - another useless word. Reply

Ron N. Salt Lake, UT January 23, 2012

Surprised At the Openness and Tolerance of Chabad It is refreshing to see a Jewish site where the views of all facets of Judaism are tolerated. Being raised in Orthodoxy and having drifted to Secularism and then into Classical Reform, I have made my way back into the new Traditional Reform and Conservative streams of observance. I was dismayed by the stringent intolerance of Orthodoxy and the way it did would not allow dissent or disagreement. It is amazing that Chabad encourages all Jews, regardless of their current stream of observance to "just strive to be a better Jew each day" without condemnation or defamation. Their tolerance is magnetic and I will try to become more observant. It is sad to see contributors to these questions tell people that their opinions should be off limits in this forum. That seems to go against everything the Chassidim are striving to achieve. More and sincere observance of the law through open and frank discussions and study. Reply

Dr. Jacques Abourbih Sudbury, ON, Canada via themtc.com December 6, 2011

Why my daughter can't have a Bat Mitzvah Could someone enlighten me what the term Torah torah refers to? I have heard that term used but never been able to find out what it implies. Reply

Meira Shana Vista, CA December 1, 2011

Female at Bimah Sitting upstairs with my mother and grandmother, looking down to where my grandfather was praying I grew up knowing how special Torah and torah are!

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to be at a rabbi's side as he read from the Torah, after my aliyah!

I never felt such honor and love and respect of Judaism as I did at that moment.

In a Conservative synagogue is where my Orthodox upbringing came into focus.

I better understood then as now a little tiny bit of what a man can feel at bimah.

I do not want to be a man - G-d honored me by making me a woman. I honor G-d by being the best person I can be, with flaws and good stuff. G-d knows me well and honors me, too.

My little bit of learning trope was amazing, too. Learning and Studying is now fun for me - it was not as a child. Reply

Anonymous WEST ORANGE, NJ via chabadessex.com August 17, 2011

Problems occur when people don't understand each other's point of view...She was just asking a simple question, I don't think her intention was to bash Orthodox Judaism...It is all a matter of perspective. Learning and studying Torah might change your point of view. It did for me...however, I do not judge anyone... Do your best for your child... Reply

Anonymous May 25, 2011

Daughter's Bat Mitzvah A woman can reach a higher spiritual hight than any man. Yes, a woman does not read from the Torah, but they have the ability to do something even more special - bring new life to the world. Everyone is entitled to their opinions though. We just passed Lag Ba'omer - the day that Jews stopped dying from the plague. And what was the plague for? Not respecting eachother. We should respect others opinions even if we beleive differently. As jews, different people have different roles. Cohanim, Leviim,men and woman all have a different role. We need everyone working together for things to work out. Hashem gave every woman many special gifts and we should use them. Reply

Beyla Brooklyn, NY February 3, 2011

Bat Mitzvah As an Orthodox Jew, I took offense to Lisa's comment. Do not denigrate my position in Judaism. The home is infinetly the most important place and women are responsible for what goes on in the home. It is only in a Christian country where we feel that the synagogue is more important that the home because in Christianity the church is the central focal point. Also, women don't need the synagogue requirements because we are already on a higher spiritual plane. Men need those commandments to reach our plane.

I will tell you that I have a PhD and have been educated outside and inside the Jewish world. If you don't believe this way fine but don't dismiss those who do. Thank you. Reply

Bar Yakov Philadelphia, PA July 5, 2010

Women Are Not Men Are Not Women, and so on It seems a great many of the comments here are way off base (while many remain focused as well). As intelligent people of the Jewish faith, we should recognize that the question answered itself. It had been composed as a desperate attempt to place a female before a Torah in an Orthodox Synogogue, yet the tone implied the absurdity in doing so.
Exchanges posted among those who practice different views of religion and philosophy, however Jewish, should respect each other's concerns, not judge them. One particular comment, posted by "As" was just rude. ("... if you are not already single or divorced"). FYI: An Orthodox Rabbi, in the memoir "The Color of Water", raped his daughter, cheated on his wife, and then divorced her in her old age. Not one way is perfect. Flaws abound.
Jews should support each other's concerns to sustain ourselves as a nation, a people and a religion, no matter the denomination!
As for those who belittle the females of the Orthodoxy: Get Over It! Reply

Ephraim London, England May 21, 2010

Women Reading from the Torah There is nothing in Halacha that says a woman cannot read from the Torah. It is only (male-dominated) tradition which prevents it. Remember, in biblical times women could achieve the status of prophets, which also proves that there is likewise nothing against women being rabbis. Reply

Anonymous Miami, FL/USA December 20, 2008

My daughters’ Bat Mitzvah I've been borne and raised as a Conservative Jew, I had my Bat Mitzvah, but for some unknown reason I felt a little bit uncomfortable when I got called to the Bimah on Saturday morning but I felt special when I lit the Shabbat candles on Kabalat Shabbat in front of the entire congregation.
After I had my children I realized that what I've been looking for my entire life it was a little bit more religious more meaningful, said it I joined Chabad at the age of 36.
Anyway none of my 2 daughters had a Bat Mitzvah at the Shul, neither they were called up to the Bimah, instead we had 2 beautiful Shabatons where their friends spent the weekend at our house, they lit candles, they sang, they told stories, next day we had lunch, play games and ended up the day with Avdalah and a big party for their entire class. Although they were kind of disappointed, they said something was missing, today they grew up to be 2 wonderful young Jewish professionals, who will make their husbands very happy! Reply

AS October 16, 2008

Why Can't My Daughter Have a Real Bat Mitzvah? Lisa, what you are advocating seems very cool, but doesn't have anything to do with Judaism. G-d created men and women different with their own particular advantages so they can complement each other. You are looking at the issue in a very superficial way. I think your life will change for the better if you look into Judaism (and maybe your marriage too, if you are not already single or divorced, with all due respect.) Reply

Lisa Providence, RI October 11, 2008

Daughter's Bat Mitzvah Anonymous, I've learned in my life there are MANY ways to do things! This girl deserves the very best, and I'm letting her and her family know that by giving them the information they need to help her make her dreams come true!

My Reform Synagogue is under the URJ Umbrella, and I sincerely believe that a girl's extra-special day should be memorable. Mine was. Reply

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