Today I Am a Woman

Today I Am a Woman

Stories of Bat Mitzvah around the World
Edited by Barbara Vinick and Shulamit Reinharz
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/07/2011
Format: Hardback 68 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35693-2
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Winner, Spirituality Category, New England Festival Best Books of the Holiday Season

But 1938, a year that began with such promise and happiness, turned into a year of despair. I cannot think of my bat mitzvah [in Turin] without recalling every event of that fateful year. It was probably the most important year of my life for the development of my character, my personality, and my dreams. That is why I am telling this story.Giorgina Vitale

Author Bio

Barbara Vinick is affiliated with the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University, where she has studied gendered rituals in Jewish communities worldwide.

Shulamit Reinharz is the Jacob S. Potofsky Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University, where she is Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. Her publications include American Jewish Women and the Zionist Enterprise, Jewish Intermarriage around the World, and The JGirls' Guide.


“Told from the perspective of Jewish girls past and present as well as their communities, this delightful compilation of bat mitzvah stories is an ideal gift for celebrants, their families, and friends.”

“The stories speak for themselves, putting Jewish girls and women on the center of the stage, into the limelight, and at the pulpit. By showcasing ritual innovation, they make a point about Judaism's elasticity and women's agency. ”
 — Hasia R. Diner, coeditor of Remembering the Lower East Side (IUP, 2000)

“A vital book that documents the revolution that has transformed the role that Jewish women play in the public life of the Jewish people in our day. . . . It is a joy to turn its pages.”
 — Rabbi David Ellenson, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

“These testimonies constitute the incredible story of our people: the vast richness of Diaspora Jewry; the importance of family, community, and rabbis everywhere . . . ; the value of new expectations, as girls, even shy ones, rise to meet them. The book tells about the importance of bat mitzvah in an age of intermarriage, in a world of feminism, tradition, and change. . . . You will surely read this book as I did, through laughter and tears and the sweep of emotions about your own Jewish identity, the joy and pride and vulnerability of being a Jew.”
 — Blu Greenberg, author of On Women and Judaism

“Americans undoubtedly think they know what a bat mitzvah is. Today I Am a Woman will surprise them with its fascinating array of compelling accounts of what it meant for Jewish girls to come of age. The editors scoured the globe to find powerful, varied, and moving depictions of bat mitzvah in the contemporary Jewish world. This is a rich resource for anyone interested in understanding religious diversity, folk practices, and cultural creativity through the lens of gender.”
 — Deborah Dash Moore, University of Michigan

“[Vinick and Reinharz] capture the amazing tales of Jewish girls on six different continents who celebrate the Jewish ritual of becoming a woman. Illustrated with over 100 black and white family photographs, readers will enjoy the accompanying narratives of each woman's unique journey and celebration into womanhood. ”
 — The Jewish Journal

“Today I Am a Woman is filled with lyrical accounts of being a bat mitzvah in such exotic places as Cochabamba, Bolivia, and Tegucigalpa, Honduras. . . . All the vignettes are accompanied by a well-researched history of the Jewish community in the area.”
 — Jewish Book Council

“[Today I Am a Woman] is a worthy and inspiring read, regardless of which stream of Judaism one adheres to. ”
 — The Jewish Standard

“'Today I Am A Woman' would not only be a lovely gift for a bat mitzvah girl or a useful purchase for anyone preparing for a bat mitzvah celebration in the family; it will also be a welcome addition to the libraries of readers seeking to understand variations in bat mitzvah practices among Jewish communities24 Spring 5773/2013”
 — Nashim: Jrnl Jewish Wmns Std & Gender Is

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Table of Contents

Preface – Shulamit Reinharz
Introduction – Barbara Vinick
1: Africa
2: Asia
3: Australia and New Zealand
4: Caribbean
5: Europe
6: Former Soviet Union, Former Yugoslavia, and Eastern Europe
7: Latin America
8: Middle East and North Africa
9: North America
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