Sally Gottesman’s Letter

Transcript of Sally Gottesman's 1974 letter to the ritual committee of Temple Shomrei Emunah, requesting a Saturday Morning Bat Mitzvah

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Ritual Committee,

Next year I will have reached the age of my Bat Mitzvah and would like to have it on Saturday morning.

This means a great deal to me because since women play an important part of every role in Jewish life, why is my part in our Temple not equal to a boy's my age? This service may be strange to tradition for a little while but my question is “Im lo achshav ay ma-tai?”* My education is as complete as a boy my age. And knowing that I am an equal makes me want to continue my studies. Knowing I can't fully participate in any activity, when can I hope to achieve a first class status?

I would greatly appreciate if the Ritual Committee would change this practice and let girls be called to the Torah.

Very truly yours,

Sally Gottesman

*Translation of “Im lo achshav ay ma-tai?”: “If not now, when?” This famous saying from the sage Hillel appears in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers, a section of Mishna).

Courtesy of Sally Gottesman.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Sally Gottesman’s Letter." (Viewed on March 4, 2021) <>.


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