Episode 71: Bat Mitzvah at 100

On March 18, 1922, Judith Kaplan made history when she stood in front of her Manhattan congregation and had America's first bat mitzvah ceremony. Judith's bat mitzvah was groundbreaking at the time, but it didn't look like most bat mitzvahs today. In this episode of Can We Talk?, producer Jen Richler talks with Professor Carole Balin about how the bat mitzvah has evolved over the past century, and how girls and their parents have pushed for that evolution. Carole is working on a book based on interviews with dozens of women, representing many decades of bat mitzvah history. Throughout the episode, you’ll hear some of their voices too.

Released March 15, 2022
  • Carole Balin dressed up as a bar mitzvah boy for Purim in 1975. Photo courtesy of Carole Balin. 

  • Carole Balin and her grandparents at her bat mitzvah in 1977. Photo courtesy of Carole Balin. 

  • Judith Kaplan Eisenstein, the first American girl to mark her bat mitzvah, c. 1940s. Image from the SAJ Silver Jubliee Journal. From the Silver Jubilee Journal for the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, 1947.

  • Mordecai Kaplan in 1915.

    Courtesy of the Menorah Journal/Project Gutenburg.

  • Invitation to Sally Gottesman's Bat Mitzvah, May 1975.

    Courtesy of Sally Gottesman

  • Gina Drangel at her Bat Mitzvah, April 27, 2018. Courtesy of Gina Drangel.

  • Anna Drangel at her Bat Mitzvah, wih her father, mother, and brother, September 22, 2018. Courtesy of Gina Drangel.

  • Carole Balin dressed as a bar mitzvah boy, in a tallit, kippah, carrying kiddush cup
  • Carole Balin posing for a photo with her grandparents.
  • Studio portrait of Judith Kaplan Eisenstein
  • Mordecai Kaplan, 1915
  • Sally Gottesman's Bat Mitzvah Invitation, 1975
  • Close-cropped photo of Gina Drangel wearing a prayer shawl
  • Anna Drangel, wearing a colorful prayer shawl, standing with her parents and younger brother in front of several Torah scrolls in an open ark

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Episode 71: Bat Mitzvah at 100." (Viewed on February 2, 2023) <https://jwa.org/podcasts/canwetalk/episode-71-bat-mitzvah-100>.

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