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Scholars tend to call them “rites of passage.” Most people prefer to speak of them as life-cycle events or milestones. Jews like to speak of simchas, when there’s something (a birth, bar or bat mitzvah, or a wedding) to celebrate. These are key moments for individuals and for the families and communities of which they are a part. This volume offers new insights into rituals as old as the Hebrew Bible and as new as the twenty-first century in contexts as familiar as the American Midwest and as exotic as Karaism. This collection examines and frequently affirms some of the rituals that have traditionally been associated with these events, while inviting readers to cast a critical eye on the ways in which these customs have developed in recent years. The authors, who include congregational leaders as well as scholars, also affirm the need to expand or enhance existing ceremonies to include groups whose needs have not traditionally been addressed.

Table of Contents

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  1. Cover
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  1. Half-Title Page, Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. i-iv
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  1. Table of Contents
  2. pp. v-vi
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  1. Acknowledgements
  2. pp. vii-viii
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  1. Editor's Introduction
  2. pp. ix-xvi
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  1. Contributors
  2. pp. xvii-xviii
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  1. "What Makes a Bat Mitzvah Blossom": Pre-Bat Mitzvah Rituals for Daughters and Mothers
  2. Penina Adelman
  3. pp. 1-8
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  1. More Bar Than Mitzvah: Anxieties over Bar Mitzvah Receptions in Postwar America
  2. Rachel Kranson
  3. pp. 9-24
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  1. Becoming Orthodox Women: Rites of Passage in the Orthodox Community
  2. Leslie Ginsparg Klein
  3. pp. 25-32
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  1. Talking about the Jewish Wedding Ritual: Issues of Gender, Power, and Social Control
  2. Irit Koren
  3. pp. 33-56
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  1. The Making of a Rabbi: Semichah Ordination from Moses to Grosses
  2. Jonathan Gross
  3. pp. 57-62
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  1. Perspectives on Evaluating New Jewish Rituals
  2. Vanessa L. Ochs
  3. pp. 63-70
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  1. Memory, Questions and Definitions: Images of Old and New Rites of Passage
  2. Ori Z. Soltes
  3. pp. 71-126
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  1. A Need for New Rituals? American Judaism and the Holocaust
  2. Oliver Leaman
  3. pp. 127-140
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  1. Karaism: An Alternate Form of Jewish Celebration
  2. Daniel J. Lasker
  3. pp. 141-154
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  1. Without a Minyan: Creating a Jewish Life in a Small Midwestern Town
  2. Daniel Mandell, Barbara Smith-Mandell, and Jerrold Hirsch
  3. pp. 155-186
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  1. Raising the Bar, Maximizing the Mitzvah: Jewish Rites of Passage for Children with Autism
  2. Steven Purzane
  3. pp. 187-197
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