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Judith Kaplan Eisenstein

The first American girl to publically celebrate a bat mitzvah, Judith Kaplan Eisenstein went on to become a Jewish educator, composer, and musicologist. Mordechai Kaplan, founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, believed in women’s right to participation in Jewish ritual and made history by giving his oldest daughter, Judith, a bat mitzvah in 1922. A musical and academic prodigy, Eisenstein studied at what would later become Julliard and taught the history of Jewish music and music pedagogy at the Jewish Theological Seminary Teacher’s Institute, often creating her own course materials. She wrote the first Jewish songbook for children, as well as a history of Jewish music, five cantatas on Jewish themes, and two song cycles, and in 1987, she created a thirteen-hour radio series on the history of Jewish music. She earned her PhD from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s School of Sacred Music in 1966 with a dissertation on Sephardic music and taught both at HUC-JIR and at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College until her retirement.

Judith Kaplan Eisenstein [media]
Full image
Judith Kaplan Eisenstein had the first bat mitzvah ceremony in America in 1922. She is pictured here at her second Bat Mitzvah ceremony, in 1992.
Date of Birth
1910
Date of Death
February 14, 1996

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Judith Kaplan Eisenstein." (Viewed on October 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/people/eisenstein-judith>.

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