Bedfordshire celebrates its first grown-up’s bat mitzvah for almost two decades

Chiara Mitchell-Middleton, who had a Catholic upbringing, converted through Liberal Judaism


Bedfordshire Progressive Synagogue has celebrated its first adult bat mitzvah for almost 20 years.

Chiara Mitchell-Middleton, who has a Jewish background on her father’s side, converted through Liberal Judaism and joined the Bedfordshire community nine years ago after being raised Catholic.

She told the JC: “Within Judaism, I am the person I was meant to be.” The conversion process took many years.

After finding her home with the Bedfordshire community and completing her conversion she made plans to celebrate her bat mitzvah.

The service was held in the home of members Rachel and James Hodgson earlier this month.

Chiara said: “I was nervous while waiting to be called up. Worship and liturgy have always been incredibly important to me, but that nervousness changed to feeling very honoured to finally be called up to read from the Torah scroll.

“It certainly isn’t something to be taken lightly. It holds laws and writings from thousands of years.”

As a child she followed the religion of her maternal grandmother, who was a Catholic.

As she grew older, “through prayer and personal study, the Torah and Judaism began to pull me along a path that seemed more real to me and made more sense than anything else”.

David Young, who guided Chiara through her conversion and taught her bat mitzvah portion, said: “There is a huge benefit from having a bar or bat mitzvah as an adult, especially for those who are Jews by choice, as well as women from traditional backgrounds and others in the community who did not have the chance when they were younger.”

Bedfordshire’s only other adult ceremony took place 19 years ago when Naomi Fellerman had her bat mitzvah.

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