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Are you the parent of a bat-mitzvah-age girl?

Tips for Parents

MyBatMitzvahStory.org is designed to help a girl, as she approaches the milestone of her bat mitzvah, reflect on who she is and who she can become. It’s likely that your daughter will want to complete most of the activities and tasks on this site independently (or working with a friend), but that does not mean that parents or other adults can't be involved. Here are some ways for you to use MyBatMitzvahStory.org:

  1. Take the quiz. There are four quizzes that match you with the Cool Jewish Women profiled on the site. Take the quizzes yourself—then compare and discuss results with your daughter.
  2. Ask about her future. Much like the popular online game M.A.S.H., My Future Life allows girls to imagine what the future may hold for them. They are prompted to think about everything from the kind of house they’ll live in to the Jewish practices and traditions they may observe. Use My Future Life to start a conversation about your daughter’s goals. Share some stories about what you wanted to be and do when you were her age.
  3. Help her connect. The Cool Jewish Women profiled on the site and the Family History Toolkit provide opportunities for a girl to think about who her role models are and to learn more about “cool” Jewish women, past and present. Help your daughter get started by asking her to list people she admires and brainstorm ways she can find out more about them.
  4. Share the website with other families. As you are undoubtedly aware, bat-mitzvah-age girls like to do what their friends are doing. Encourage your daughter’s friends and their parents to check out the site. Girls are more likely to become actively engaged if they can share their stories and projects with their friends. You may also want to alert educators and/or clergy in your community to the website’s resources.

Oral History Project Guidelines for Parents

Doing an oral history project with your daughter is a fun way to explore personal history and spend time together. Here are some guidelines to help you work with your daughter as she contacts a narrator (as the person being interviewed is called), conducts an interview, and shares what she learns with her friends and family.

  1. Encourage your daughter to choose a narrator in whom she has a real interest; it is important that your daughter feel connected to and comfortable with the person she interviews.
  2. Your role is to facilitate the interview process while your daughter works as independently as possible. Feel free to give suggestions on questions or offer practical support (for example, setting up the camera or microphone).
  3. Remember, this is not a school project. Girls can be as creative as they want, and you may choose to use some parts of the Toolkit but not others. Focus on your family’s goals for doing an oral history rather than on completing every step of the process perfectly.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

Here are some questions to help your daughter (and you) think about what it means to become a bat mitzvah. You may want to discuss these questions together or use them as a starting point for your own reflections.

  • Do you have a role model? Who is it? Why do you look up to him/her?
  • Do  you think you are a role model for anyone? Why? How does it make you feel to know that others look up to you?
  • Why do you think Jewish tradition considers that young people become adults at the age of 12 or 13? Why is this different from other milestones (for example, learning to drive)? Do you feel like you have more responsibilities now than you did a few years ago? What are they?
  • What interests or traits do you think you inherited from your parents? Your grandparents?
  • What makes you "feel Jewish"? What do you like about being Jewish? Is it ever hard for you to be Jewish? Why or why not?
  • As you enter this new stage in your life, what would you like to know about your family?