Girl makes history at batmitzvah

By Jane Liddell-King, July 8, 2010
Beth Djanogly

Beth Djanogly

Beth Djanogly, 12, broke new ground when she chanted the haftarah for her batmitzvah in Cambridge last Shabbat - she is believed to be the first to have done so in an Orthodox synagogue under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi.

While her father chanted the portion from the prophets in the main prayer-hall of the Cambridge Traditional Synagogue, Beth did the same to a women-only audience in another room.

As she completed the blessings to murmurs of appreciation, one woman was heard to whisper: "That was so amazing, it just shows what can be done."

Later, the batmitzvah girl gave an address to the entire congregation on last week's Torah portion which, appropriately enough, contains the story of the daughters of Zelophehad who seek permission to inherit their father's estate in lieu of any sons.

Taught by local community member Ben Crown, Beth also had coaching in voice production from a teacher at her school, Wycombe Abbey.

Batmitzvahs in mainstream Orthodox synagogues have come a long way since girls went through ceremonies in groups on Sunday afternoon.

In many United Synagogues in London, they now deliver an address on the Torah on a Shabbat morning at the end - or sometimes after the service.

Last updated: 1:39pm, July 8 2010