Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What’s the point of having a bat mitzvah?

These days, I’m often gobsmacked by girls’ outfits at their parties—and sometimes in shul, as well: gynecologically short skirts, bustier tops cantilevered over barely developed curves, nosebleed-inducing stratospheric heels. The bat mitzvah girl’s friends teeter into the party like a herd of newborn foals. Some hostesses provide baskets of ankle socks so that the girls can dance more comfortably after they take off their foot-bindings.

But I am a little concerned about the big picture. What’s the point of having a bat mitzvah—a symbolic ceremony marking the time when a girl becomes a Jewish adult, fully responsible for her own actions and choices—if she’s going to focus more on the clothes and the party than the ritual? Why choose to do exactly what everyone else does, with the only individualization being the theme colors, the degree of showiness, and the amount of pupik shown by both the bat mitzvah girl and her mother? The ungapatchka same-sameness seems particularly sad when you consider how hard individual girls and women worked to win the right to celebrate this milestone at all.


  1. But you could say the same thing about many bar mitzvahs except for the part about the skanky clothes. In the non-religious world the bar/bat mitzvah is the "Jewish" equivalent of the Sweet 16 party or the high society debutante ball. It's a social occasion with no connection to the idea that the child is now a legal adult and responsible for his/her own actions under halacha.

  2. Given that a lot (most?) of those parties are for girls reaching 13 years of age (instead of 12), I am fairly certain that ritual has very little to do with it anyway.

  3. It's a real chilul Hashem, since many gentiles often get invited to these parties.

  4. I think recognition of a girl becoming obligated in mitzvot should occur in baseball stadiums. Then we could all complain about "Too much bat, not enough mitzvah."

  5. Larry, it's comments like yors that make me wish blogger made a like button for comments


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