Bat Mitzvah Scrapbook

Bat Mitzvah Scrapbook

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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. This scrapbook contains highlights from that day.
Object Name
date made
ca 1983
place made
United States: Wisconsin, Madison
Physical Description
printed (overall production method/technique)
paper (overall material)
overall: 32 cm x 27.5 cm x 2.5 cm; 12 19/32 in x 10 13/16 in x 31/32 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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