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Bat Mitzvah Dress

Bat Mitzvah Dress

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Description
Sarah Leavitt’s Bat Mitzvah, Madison, Wisconsin, 1983
Religious communities have long played a role in defining the transition from girlhood to womanhood with rites of passage. Yet, girls take on these traditions and remake them in different ways.
In the synagogue, a thirteen-year-old boy becomes a man at his Bar Mitzvah. But no comparable ceremony sanctified girls’ coming of age until 1922, when a New York rabbi invented Bat Mitzvah for his daughter. By the late 1900s, Jewish girls had claimed the millennia-old ritual known as the Bar Mitzvah for themselves.
Sarah Leavitt grew up in Madison, where she celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at Temple Beth El. Both the boys and girls in her class took on the responsibilities of being a Jewish adult at age 13. However, the girls did not wear the traditional prayer shawl (tallit) or head covering, (yarmulke) that were still, then, only worn by the boys.
Bat Mitzvah’s often meant a new dress and a party. Reminiscent of Victorian romance, this Gunne Sax dress was all the rage in the early 1980s.
Object Name
dress
Physical Description
textile (overall material)
Measurements
overall, flat: 88 cm x 65 cm x 1 cm; 34 21/32 in x 25 19/32 in x 13/32 in
overall, mounted: 30 1/2 in x 17 in x 13 in; 77.47 cm x 43.18 cm x 33.02 cm
ID Number
2018.0254.1
accession number
2018.0254
catalog number
2018.0254.1
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Work and Industry: Work
Exhibition
Girlhood
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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