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Coming of Age - The First Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue Bat Mitzvah

Louise Jay Mordecai

Louise Jay Mordecai recalls her traditional Jewish coming of age, the Bat Mitzvah, the first at Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue, s previously young members had had a Jewish confirmation service.

My Bat Mitzvah was 16th January 1971. I have always felt that women should be able to participate in religious life as much as men so I probably made the suggestion. My teacher and the head of the religion school at that time was Charles Lyon Maris and I think that it was mainly he who planned the ceremony.

It was decided that the week's sidrah was not suitable and so it was changed and I read Shemot, Exodus Chapter 2, the story of Moses in the Bullrushes. Charles Lyon-Maris decided that it would be good if I read it sentence by sentence translating as I went, which is what I did. I can't remember the Haftarah that I read - but I did give a talk on famous women Liberal Judaism which was based on the life story of Lily Montague.

I felt proud to be able to be able to have a Batmitzvah. My best friend belonged to an Orthodox synagogue (though she did come to our religion school for a while - because it was more fun!). There were other Jewish girls at school - I had once been told by one of them that I was not properly Jewish because I belonged to the Liberal shul - so I grew up knowing that Liberal Judaism was not accepted by all. However, because of my family's strong involvement in the shul and ULPS this didn't bother me too much.

The following day I had to write all of my thank you notes as there was going to be a postal strike beginning the next week - I remember spending the day composing and writing them all.

Written by Louise Jay Mordecai, Chavenay, France, March 2005

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