Bat Mitzvah Speech from a Feminist Jewish Mother


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Oh, milestones! My dear daughter recently became a bat mitzvah, and I’ve received several requests to post the speech I gave to her.

Dearest daughter ~

My baby girl woman, this is amazing, to be with you on the bima for this special Shabbat.

As I’ve watched you prepare for this day, I’ve been thinking about what a marvel and miracle it is for you to accept the mantle of womanhood in front of our family and our community.

Your Torah portion, Vayeira, is also auspicious because it’s one of the few that focuses on a woman’s story and introduces Sarah’s role as the mother the Jewish people.

This concept of a Holy Mother is an important one but often hidden from in our regular worship. In our synagogue, we have moved to a neutral way of referring to our Creator, but in the rabbinic literature there remains the tradition of the Divine Feminine, also called the Shekinah. This sacred feminine aspect of God is represented in the symbol of the hamsa—the hand of God—a symbol that has seen spiritual and cultural resurgence in the past few years, and our guests will be seeing a lot of them this weekend in the decorations!

I have always been a faithful person, and when your brother made me a mother I was brought to my knees by the awesome honor and responsibility of passing on life.

But it wasn’t until I had a daughter that I truly understood the sacred power of the feminine.

When you were born, one of the nurses told me that little girls are born, they have all of their genetic material already inside them. (Without going into an anatomy lesson up here, let’s just say that this is not the case for the male members of the species.)

I looked at your tiny little face and blinky black eyes and realized that meant that part of you had always existed inside of me. That you were already there when I was born to my mother, Marcia, and me to her, and her to Bubbe Reggie, and likewise Reggie to Grandma Lillian, through all the mothers, all the way back to Sarah and the other matriarchs who we still honor every Shabbat.

This STILL BLOWS MY MIND when I stop to think about this direct and powerful lineage. Makes you wonder how we ever got distracted into patriarchy! [**side eye**]

Of course, your dear dad brought the rest of the beautiful pieces that have become you, and you carry the legacy of his mother, who was also named Marcia, and her mother, Ruth, whose name you share with my paternal grandmother Ruth Feinstein, who first introduced me to the symbol of the hamsa when I was a little girl. The influence of your dad’s paternal grandma, Florence, is in there, too.

You have inherited much strength, resilience and creativity from these women, and you are a unique, fortuitous composite of all the ways God creates and directs Life— as our people say, you are beshert, “meant to be.”

I’ve been overjoyed and humbled to celebrate and honor the Divine Feminine with you in some truly meaningful ways this year, from learning about the moon cycles in the Red Tent at the Women’s Herbal Conference to dunking ourselves in an ocean mikveh with the wonderful women of our congregation before Rosh Hashanah last month.

I will always remember you as the perfect little baby in my arms, as the hilarious little girl who bounced like a ball through the hallways and the kind, thoughtful, courageous, confident young person standing before us now, and I am so excited to watch and support the woman you are becoming.

As you step into this world that is full of challenges yet brimming eternally with beauty, grace and love, may you walk your own path, straight and tall.

And whether you choose to become a mother or channel the Divine power of creation in other ways, never doubt that everything you need is already inside you.

Custom hamsa design by – isn’t it DIVINE?!

3 thoughts on “Bat Mitzvah Speech from a Feminist Jewish Mother

  1. I remember when you were pregnant and you would tell our mama group that you could feel she was going to be an amazing, powerful woman. I remember that clearly!!! : )

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