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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

ascertain the perennity of these synagogues. Phyllis Cohen Albert, ‘Non-orthodox Attitudes in 19th Century French Judaism’ in Essays in Modern Jewish History: A Tribute to Ben Halpern , ed. Frances Malino and Phyllis Cohen Albert, East Brunswick (New Jersey

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Elia Etkin, Tal Elmaliach, and Motti Inbari

the context of both Jewish life in the Middle East and in the West? These questions touch on the interrelationship of universalism and particularism that forms a central axis in modern Jewish history as part of the ‘Jewish question’ of the last two

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The Search for Politanky

A Hidden Holocaust Refuge in Transnistria

Carol Simon Elias

-Semitic massacres in the 17th and 18th centuries; the birth of Hassidism, one of the most powerful spiritual movements in modern Jewish history; and the hardships of the 19th century, when Jews were confined to the region called the ‘Pale of Settlement’. Shargorod

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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

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On Vertical Alliances, ‘Perfidious Albion’ and the Security Paradigm

Reflections on the Balfour Declaration Centennial and the Winding Road to Israeli Independence

Arie M. Dubnov

) and the British narrative. This narrative, popular among those who read Zionism as a ‘revolution’, tends to read Israeli independence as representing a clear break in modern Jewish history, signifying the end of the age-long tendency to rely on others