Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

Contests and
Sweeps

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 

Happiness
poll

most popular
articles

Viewed

Commented

Late-Life Bat Mitzvahs

They missed out on girlhood bat mitzvahs, but eight decades later these Ohio women marked their Jewish rite of passage.

Late-Life Bat Mitzvahs

— Jessica Antola

The event would be nerve-racking for them—appearing before nearly 300 friends and family members, reading aloud ancient Hebrew psalms, waxing wise about why it all mattered in their lives. But when ten Ohio women ages 89 through 96 flawlessly finished their bat mitzvahs—experiencing together the coming-of-age ritual they were never allowed to have as girls—there was dancing in the synagogue aisles.

"It's something I always harbored in my thoughts, and it finally came to fruition," says a beaming Eva Rosenberg, 91, a retired elementary-school teacher who "couldn't believe" so many had showed up for the occasion last March.

Tradition once dictated that only boys experienced this milestone—for them, called a bar mitzvah—but most non-Orthodox synagogues eased the rules years ago (the first bat mitzvah in the United States was in 1922, though it took decades for the ceremony to become common). And so the women, all residents of Menorah Park Center for Senior Living outside Cleveland, happily accepted their rabbi's invitation to make up for lost spiritual time. On the big day, Molly Kravitz, 96, the eldest of the group, dressed in purple, her favorite color.

For all the clamor around their celebration, the women say they weren't making a statement about past wrongs—just affirming they're still living life with gusto and glee. Fay Kadis, 94, wants to continue studying Hebrew and Yiddish, if she can cram it in between Cleveland Orchestra concerts, weekly opera-group discussions, and courses on the history of the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I always had so many irons in the fire that I never became proficient in Hebrew," Kadis says. "But this has sparked my interest in it again."

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

Norwegian Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruise Line offers 5% off on select cruises, plus other special offers.

Tanger Outlets

Members receive a free Tanger Coupon Book including up to 20% discount offers.

Life insurance: you are covered rain or shine

Members can convert their assets into guaranteed income for life with AARP Lifetime Income Program from New York Life.

Member Benefits

Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change. Join Today

Featured
Groups

5 Weeks to a New Life

How do you resolve differences in a relationship — without fighting? Share your tips in our online community and be eligible to win prizes. Discuss

The Reinvention Group

The Reinvention Group

Ask questions, find support and share information about changing gears in your 50+ years. Discuss

coffeeshop

The Coffee Shop

Kick back and enjoy lighthearted conversation among Online Community locals. Discuss