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Never to late

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2006-05-31


Women who have not had a formal Batmitzvah can now be part of a new educational programme that provides a meaningful way for women to celebrate their coming of age regardless of how long ago it was.

The Batmitzvah Revisited concept was developed by Rebbetzin Rachie Binstock of St John's Wood synagogue in north west London and has already seen eight women celebrate their Batmitzvah.

"Over the past few years, it has been my pleasure to teach a number of daughters of our community in preparation for their Batmitzvah," said Rebbetzin Binstock. "After every Batmitzvah I have heard variations of the same wistful remark, 'We never had anything like this in my day'. I saw this as giving women of all ages and backgrounds a chance to explore their Jewish identity and achieve religious and spiritual growth."

The eight women were Beryl Slade, Denise Katz, Hazel Howard, Irene Gee, Irene Goodman, Linda Sharpe, Simone Klass and Susan Kosky. For the project, the women studied the Psalms of David and a special book of the work they did was published.

"The concept of a "Batmitzvah revisited" was, I felt, a worthwhile chance to once again study in depth, something that was a part of my Jewish Heritage," said Susan who is active within the Chevra Kadisha of the United Synagogue.

"When you sent round the letter about a chance to be Bat Mitzvah, I thought what a great idea it was," said Denise who teaches swimming and has an interest in taking care of senior citizens. "Here was my chance to get reacquainted with the Jewish religion, which I hadn’t done since going to Jewish Boarding School at the age of 10.

The women hope what they have achieved can also be used in other United Synagogue communities. "This could become a regular event in St John’s Wood and possibly be of interest to communities across United Synagogue," added Rebbetzin Binstock.