Melissa Klapper, author of Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860-1920, joins Dan Libenson and Lex Rofeberg for a conversation serving as a “prequel” of sorts to our recent unit on the past, present, and future of Bat Mitzvah (and B Mitzvah in general). But it’s also…kind-of a sequel? Klapper talks through the ways in which Jewish girls marked their entry into adulthood — both within Jewish life and in secular contexts — in the era directly preceding the emergence of Bat Mitzvah as a life-cycle ritual (hence “prequel!”). The sense in which this conversation is also a sequel is that it is focused on adolescents, largely between the ages of 13 and 20, which is the stage of life directly after many B Mitzvahs occur, at 12-13 years of age!

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