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.