A Jewish girl’s guide to a bat mitzvah project
I felt overwhelmed when deciding what to do for a bat mitzvah project. My Bat mitzvah was fast approaching (the simcha took place on August 20, 2011), and I wanted to complete a project that would allow me to make a contribution to society. I was about to become a Jewish adult, and I wanted to give back in the same way that I saw many adults and other b’nai mitzvah doing. I love helping others, and I saw my bat mitzvah as another opportunity to do so. The only thing left that I had to do was choose a project.
The number of projects available for b’not mitzvah to complete was staggering. The causes that I wanted to explore ranged from volunteering at homeless shelters to working to help the environment. The more I researched the topic, the more possibilities I saw... and the more frustrated I grew. I knew that I couldn’t contribute to every cause that I was interested in; by the time I was done raising money and contributing to all the organizations, my bat mitzvah would have been long gone. Then, as if out of nowhere, an idea struck me. What if I could find a way to contribute to ALL of these causes...and more?
My book, A Jewish Girl’s Guide to a Bat Mitzvah Project is a compilation of stories of girls and women who have completed inspiring, interesting, and amazing b’not mitzvah projects — regardless of when they completed them. I am in the process of interviewing over one hundred girls and women from all over the world and from all walks of life — from first generation Americans to Hollywood royalty, from New York to Texas to California to Alaska, from age twelve to age one hundred twelve. Whether it’s working with animals, volunteering at a soup kitchen, tutoring underprivileged students, baking and selling cookies for Haitian relief, or putting on a production of “Annie” whose proceeds benefited a hospital, there’s a project in my book for every aspiring bat mitzvah. Their stories will inspire thousands of others to give back to the community in a way that best suits their interests and abilities – and, in doing so, fulfill the ultimate mitzvah of tikkun olam (repairing the world).
My book has flourished wonderfully these past few months. On babaganewz.com, I have a bar and bat mitzvah blog where I document stories from my book. In addition, A Jewish Girl’s Guide even has it’s own Facebook page. The proceeds from A Jewish Girl’s Guide to a Bat Mitzvah Project will go to Nes Gadol, a program at Vista Del Mar that helps underprivileged girls and women with special needs realize their dreams of becoming b’not mitzvah. Vista Del Mar helps tutor and fund these girls’ b’not mitzvah.
So...do you have an amazing bat mitzvah story you’d like to share? If so, then please email me, and I’ll include your amazing bat mitzvah story in my book. I look forward to hearing from you!
Read more about the project in The Jewish Week.
Do you live in the Boston area? Join JWA at the November 20th event Today I Am A Woman: Celebrating Bat Mitzvah in Boston and Around the World to discover bat mitzvah stories from around the world, meet other bat mitzvah girls, create a craft project, and explore your own bat mitzvah story with maps, writing, interviews, and art. Also, be sure to check out JWA's most recent project MyBatMitzvahStory.org, a safe and engaging website where girls will explore and express their emerging identities. The site also features free activity guides for eductors and tutors to use in mixed-gender, offline settings.