Saadia Faruqi and Shoshana Kordova discuss milestones and coming-of-age traditions in Islam and Judaism.
Shoshana talks about bat mitzvahs and Saadia talks about the ameen ceremony, and both hit on the key role played by cake.
Here's Shoshana on the range of options now open to Orthodox bat mitzvah girls. In addition to reading from the Torah at more liberal Orthodox "partnership" congregations, there are a whole lot of other possibilities:
"Orthodox bat mitzvah girls might also celebrate their study of a section of the Mishna or Gemara, ride into their party on a camel, volunteer at a soup kitchen or go on a family trip to the Red Sea resort town of Eilat. And that’s a sample, not an exhaustive list. Kol ha’emtza’im ksherim, they say in Hebrew: All the means are kosher. This can be a way of expressing that all options are on the table; but when everything is kosher, it’s tough to figure out what to eat."
And here's Saadia on her childhood memories of religious ceremonies:
"But the religious ceremonies I have a particularly strong memory of are actually not Muslim at all. I studied in a Catholic convent as a child in Pakistan, as was the tradition among South Asians with the means to afford a private, world-class education. My friends were Christian as well as Muslim, and I watched the Christian ones with envy as they donned their gorgeous white dresses for First Communion and Confirmation. The pomp and grandeur that these girls experienced on their special day was so beyond my frame of reference that it was impossible to feel completely happy for them without feeling just a tiny bit jealous. While it was an exciting time for these girls and their families, I felt completely, unfairly left out."
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