Shedding New Light on Jewish Traditions

Jill Seeherman Story

My Experience as an Adult Bat Mitzvah at Or Hadash

Jill Seeherman

When I first heard that Rabbi Josh was starting a class for people interested in having a Bar or Bat Mitzvah as an adult, my interest was peaked. My husband and children had all had the experience and I felt like I had missed something in my youth. Bar Mitzvahs were for boys only according to my family and most families at my synagogue in the late 60s. Although I had been confirmed, I felt that the experience of participating in an adult B’nai mitzvah class would help me feel more connected to my Jewish heritage, and it did.

Learning Hebrew was not as difficult for me as I had expected since I had learned the alphabet in Sunday school at Rodeph Shalom in Elkins Park. As a child, I enjoyed listening to Hebrew songs even though I did not know what the words meant. My grandfather was a regular attendant at Rodeph Shalom and had a seat designated as his
own. I found that to be admirable.

The first day of class I felt a connection to all of the adults in the room who were dedicating their time to increasing their Jewish knowledge and culminating in the honor of reading Torah in front of the congregation at Or Hadash. The process took about a year, beginning with re-learning the basic aleph bet and ending in the difficult task of learning [Torah] troup.

My family and friends were very impressed that I had undertaken this task. It was both an honor and a privilege to work closely with Rabbi Josh and the group of adults who joined me in this wonderful event. The friendships I have developed with two other members and tutors remain very special to me. The prayer book given to me remains on my coffee table where I can easily access it to read the Morning Blessings, a beautiful way to begin my day.