Jewish New Yorkers and Elected Officials
Celebrated 100th Anniversary of
First Bat Mitzvah in American History
On March 17, Jewish New Yorkers and New York elected officials gathered together to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first Bat Mitzvah in American history which took place in New York City at the Upper West Side synagogue, SAJ-Judaism That Stands for All. On March 18, 1922, at SAJ, Judith Kaplan became the first American girl in history to formally step into the Jewish community by becoming a Bat Mitzvah.
Since Kaplan’s Bat Mitzvah, nearly a million Jewish teenage girls have celebrated their Bat Mitzvahs in America.
The event was sponsored by SAJ – Judaism that Stands for All and the Jewish Women’s Archive, and co-sponsored by Beit Rabban Day School, B’nai Jeshurun, The Forward, Hadassah, Kolot Chayeinu, Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Moving Traditions, Rodeph Sholom, Romemu and West End Synagogue.
Governor Kathy Hochul joined Congress member Jerry Nadler, Congress member Carolyn Maloney, City Council member Gale Brewer, Rabbi Carole Balin, PhD, historian and scholar on Bat Mitzvah, Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Chief Program Officer at Moving Tradition, Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann of SAJ, Rabbi Joy Levitt, pioneering female Rabbi, Rabbi Sandy Sandy Sasso, first female Reconstructionist Rabbi and others.
SAJ’s 100th Anniversary celebration is part of a month of commemoration events. In the weeks leading up to the anniversary, SAJ launched an Instagram story project called @JudithKaplan1922. In the project, a teen actress re-enacted the weeks leading up to Judith’s Bat Mitzvah, as she shares her excitement and nerves — helping Judith’s story reach teen girls in NY and across the nation. This instagram project will be used in B’Nai Mitzvah classes, in a lesson plan created through Moving Traditions.
SAJ’s keystone celebration of Judith Kaplan’s Bat Mitzvah kicked-off Bat Mitzvah commemoration services at more than 150 synagogues across the country — including synagogues in Richmond, Virginia; St. Louis Missouri; Manitoba, Canada; Hollywood, California; Evanston, Illinois and more.
SAJ – Judaism that Stands for All is a Reconstructionist synagogue on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and the birthplace of Reconstructionist Judaism. Founded in 1922 by Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, SAJ is known for its deep and critical engagement with Jewish tradition, its focus on ethics and social justice and for introducing the Bat Mitzvah ceremony to American Judaism in March 1922. SAJ is currently led by Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Hermann.
The Jewish Women’s Archive is a national organization dedicated to collecting and promoting the extraordinary stories of Jewish women. JWA explores the past as a framework for understanding the issues important to women today; inspires young people with remarkable role models; and uses Jewish women’s stories to excite people to see themselves as agents of change.