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A Spiritual Journey

Celebrating a Bat Mitzvah as an Adult

A class of eight women at Temple Shir Tikvah in Winchester studied together to prepare for bat mitzvah ceremonies. Six of the women held a group ceremony on June 3 before roughly 200 relatives and others. Another class member will mark her bat mitzvah on October 21. Here are three of their stories.

48, Arlington

Raised as a Protestant, she attended church regularly in childhood but drifted away from Christianity when she became an adult. At age 30, she married a Jew and, eight years later, converted to Judaism because she and her husband had decided to raise their children Jewish. Because her husband was not religious, she saw her role as being the religious educator in the home.

FAMILY Married with two daughters, ages 11 and 14.

CAREER Information systems manager for the nonprofit YouthBuild USA; Arlington selectwoman.

WHY ENROLL IN A BAT MITZVAH CLASS? "It's the next thing, the next rite of passage. It's like I've had my babies, I've done a baby naming. I've had a wedding, my children are going to go through their bat mitzvahs, and I'll do mine."

THOUGHTS ON THE ADULT BAT MITZVAH MOVEMENT Religion for us isn't just raising the kids and staying home making the challah anymore. It's getting involved in synagogue leadership and leading services."

59, Reading

Born into a Methodist family, she stopped identifying herself as Christian as an adult. She belonged to a Unitarian Universalist church for three years. In 2003, she converted to Judaism as another step in a spiritual journey, a move that deepened her connection to her Jewish husband.

FAMILY Married since 1992.

CAREER Former social worker.

WHY? She was ambivalent at first, because she saw it as something for 13-year-olds, then began to like the idea. "It marks a step in my Jewish learning and a step in my own spiritual life."

"Standing on the bimah on this day, I affirm and deepen my Jewish identity and indicate my intention to continue my Jewish learning. This time in my life is also a time of deepening my ongoing commitment to healing, growth, openness, and courage, and creating the intention of being present as I approach my 60th birthday next year."

59, Arlington

She grew up in a Conservative Jewish congregation and graduated from Sunday school. However, she struggled to feel comfortable in temples until she eventually joined the Temple Shir Tikvah chorus in Winchester.

FAMILY Single.

CAREER Retired in 2004 after a career as a speech and language pathologist.

WHY ENROLL IN A BAT MITZVAH CLASS? "I felt that I had missed out. I was singing all of this music in Hebrew, and I really didn't know what the words meant."

"I have grown so much as a person and a Jew. I know that I have no children to whom I will pass on my heritage. . . . I am proud and pleased to solidify the way of life that my parents passed on to me, that their parents gave to them and their ancestors before them: the life of a complete, Jewish woman."

-Linda K. Wertheimer

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