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Judith Kaplan Eisenstein

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.

Taking Risks, Making Change: Bat Mitzvah and Other Evolving Traditions

Today, the Bat Mitzvah may seem like a routine aspect of a young girl's Jewish life. But less than 100 years ago, no public ceremony existed to mark a girl's coming of age, and over the past century, what a "Bat Mitzvah" looks like has continually shifted. This Go & Learn guide uses the letters from one girl's campaign to have the first Saturday morning Bat Mitzvah in her congregation as a case study for exploring how we confront controversial issues and make change in our communities.

Judith Kaplan celebrates first American Bat Mitzvah ceremony

March 18, 1922

Judith Kaplan (Eisenstein) became the first American Bat Mitzvah.

Bat Mitzvah revolutions and evolutions

Judith Kaplan (Eisenstein) made history 87 years ago today when she became the first American to celebrate a Bat Mitzvah. As the daughter of an innovative rabbi - Mordechai Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism- she benefited from his belief in egalitarianism and his willingness to challenge tradition.

Ritual: A Feminist Approach

Because religious praxis involving material objects plays so major a role in Jewish religion, one of the most significant expressions of the creation of feminist Judaism and its influence on the Jewish people is women’s wide-ranging involvement in the full range of ceremonies that exist both within and beyond halakhah.

Reform Judaism in the United States

Leaders of Reform Judaism in the United States have often celebrated their movement’s role in emancipating women from the many restrictions that Judaism has traditionally imposed upon their ability to participate and lead public worship.

Reconstructionist Judaism in the United States

The term “Reconstructionism” comes from his notion that Judaism should neither be reformed nor conserved, but reconstructed.

Jewish Women and Jewish Music in America

American Jewish music has expanded vastly in variety, range, and quality of activities. Jews brought to America their secular-folk and sacred-liturgical musical heritage. There has been a renascence of age-old traditions that have become means of self-expression for Jewish women.

Hebrew Teachers Colleges in the United States

During the early waves of immigration to the United States, Sephardi and German Jews established full-time schools in large population centers. Rabbis, clergy and predominantly European-trained male teachers provided religious instruction in private-school settings, often sponsored by and housed in synagogues.

Judith Kaplan Eisenstein

Before she was thirteen years old, author, composer, and musicologist Judith Kaplan Eisenstein was already a significant figure in Jewish history. The eldest of four daughters born to Lena (Rubin) and Rabbi Mordecai Menachem Kaplan, the founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, Judith Kaplan was the first young woman to celebrate a [jwa_encyclopedia_glossary:301]Bat Mitzvah[/jwa_encyclopedia_glossary] publicly in an American congregation on March 18, 1922.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Judith Kaplan Eisenstein." (Viewed on September 1, 2014) <http://jwa.org/taxonomy/term/14352>.

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