A Program for Bat Mitzvah Girls and Their Mothers
Beneath the Surface: A Program for Bat Mitzvah Girls and Their Mothers adds choice, empowerment, and experiential learning to the process of becoming Bat Mitzvah, so that the ritual becomes a point of entry into Jewish life rather than an exit.
Mothers and their pre-teen daughters have very different, although at times overlapping, needs. In The Invisible Web, Marianne Walters writes, “[The young-adult daughter and adult mother] … are both in the process of restructuring a relationship, not ‘splitting’ from it; and in restructuring their relationship they will need to find ways to acknowledge their sameness in order to be comfortable with their differences” (Walters, 1988, p. 49).
Beneath the Surface enhances the Bat Mitzvah experience, providing a nurturing and safe context in which mothers and daughters may engage with each other. Beneath the Surface complements what in America has become a largely communal celebration with opportunities for intimate, private, creative expression.
Beneath the Surface, a three-session program, uses engaging activities within a warm and inclusive environment to strengthen the mother-daughter relationship at the important time of preparing for Bat Mitzvah. Fostering this bond provides a secure foundation for mothers and daughters preparing for the changes of the teen years, creates confident young women who feel a strong connection to their mothers and their Judaism, and highlights family strengths.
The goals of the program are:
Beneath the Surface provides an opportunity to enhance families' bat mitzvah experience by enabling mothers and daughters to engage with one another in conversation, art, crafts, and texts in a nurturing and safe environment with opportunities for intimate, creative expression. The program takes place over three sessions, each running for two and a half hours.
This program is intended as a pre-bat mitzvah experience. Preference is given to families who are within 6-7 months of their bat mitzvah date. Non-Jewish mothers raising Jewish daughters are warmly welcomed, as are single moms, those in same-sex relationships, and all Jewish denominations.
“I was seeking time to give attention to each of us – mother and daughter – especially for my daughter at this change moment. I wanted to celebrate both where we’ve come from and what our vision is moving forward – to celebrate my daughter becoming a Jewish adult woman.”
"I came here having no idea what it was going to be like and thinking that it was way too early to start doing bat mitzvah prep programs since I just got my date. During this program my bat mitzvah came into sight beautifully and I felt like I realized that I had lots of support in this journey (my mom, others, and even the others in this program in a way)."