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The Conceptual and Anthropological History of Bat Mitzvah

Two Lexical Paths and Two Jewish Identities

Hizky Shoham


This article aims to form a conversation between conceptual history and anthropological history, taking bat mitzvah, the coming-of-age ceremony for Jewish girls, as a test case. The term is shown to have two main conceptual meanings: first, the new religious status that a Jewish girl acquires—that of an adult obligated by the precepts of Jewish law—and second, the event or ritual marking this milestone. The close examination of the concept’s various meanings in different Jewish languages tracks its development from its hesitant beginnings in the nineteenth century to its emergence as a key concept that refers to a central ceremony in the Jewish world of the twentieth century. From that point, the article follows the two lexical paths that bat mitzvah has traveled, in the United States and in Israel, and highlights a basic anthropological difference in the ceremony’s social function.

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Nick Underwood

Hyman argued that “the gendered differences in the experience of assimilation and the growing representation of women as the primary transmitters of Jewish culture shaped modern Jewish history on the battlegrounds of sexual politics.” 64 In this study

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Stephen Berkowitz

Essays in Modern Jewish History: A Tribute to Ben Halpern , ed. Frances Malino and Phyllis Cohen Albert , East Brunswick (New Jersey) 1982 . Faure , Laura Hobson , ‘Espoir, reconstruction et solidarité internationale: la renaissance de l

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Menachem Begin’s World Travels in the 1950s

A Road to Political Legitimacy

Ofira Gruweis-Kovalsky

-Restraint’ (1936–1939): Theory and Practice.” [In Hebrew.] Pp. 283 – 320 in Transition and Change in Modern Jewish History: Essays Presented in Honor of Shmuel Ettinger , ed. Shmuel Almog et al. Jerusalem : Shazar . Heller , Joseph . 1989 . Lehi

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Two Patterns of Modernization

An Analysis of the Ethnic Issue in Israel

Shlomo Fischer

Mizrahi Jewry to the Zionist Movement .” [In Hebrew.] Pp. 169 – 192 in Transition and Change in Modern Jewish History , ed. Shmuel Almog et al . Jerusalem : Historical Society of Israel . Tsimhoni , Daphne . 1988 . “ Beginnings of the