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May 10, 2013

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PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 10, 2013 Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU MIAMI BEACHmOn Sat- urday morning, March 18, 1922--two years afterAmeri- can women received the right to vote--Judith Kaplan, daughter of Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, became the first American girl to mark her bat mitzvah during a public worship service. With this revolutionary act, she and her father initi- ated what would become the widespread Americar Jewish practice of bat mitzvah. To mark the 90th anniversary of Judith Kaplan's bat mitz- vah, the National Museum of American Jewish History and Moving Traditions col- laborated to organize a trav- eling exhibition, Bat Mitzvah Comes of Age, featuring the remarkable story of how, in les than a century, individual girls, their parents and rabbis challenged and Changed com- munat values and practice to institute this now widely observed Jewish ritual. As the only venue in te Southeast to display Bat Mitzvah Comes of Age, Jewish Museum of Fiorida-FIU will draw Florida connections to the exhibit, represented by the stories of more than 40 bat mitzvah ceremonies around the state and spanning many decades. The exhibit is open now and will-run through Sept. 15 at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, 301 Washing- ton Ave. The stories of bat mitz- presents Bat Mitzvah Comes of Age vah "firsts," as told in this exhibit range from secular to ultra-Orthodox and from smalI town to urban center. It includes the stories of everyday trendsetters and prominent women, such as Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, community leader Ruth Messinger and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, a Floridian, which illustrate the substantial impact Of bat mitzvah on Jewish life and on each of the featured women. Following her bat mitzvah in St. Louis in 1950, Dee Radman Hermann responded,"I can do anything I want ifI pursue it," when asked about the lessons she learned in training for her special day. "We felt this exhibit was a powerful portrayal of the role of Jewish women as major contributors of change to Jew- ish American traditions," said Jo Ann Arnowitz, executive director of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. "The 'coming- of-age' ritual is practiced dif- ferently throughout various cultures and ethnicities, but each serves as a rite of pas- sage for solidifying a person's place in their community. We look forward to sharing these women's stories and those of Jewish women throughout Florida. I think everyone will be inspired by this beautiful and touching exhibit.'? This exhibition explores how the tradition of bat .............................. I..,,d ,. %,.'.H ...................................... ,"la. m= * -; 9 " ( ) ........... ,, /6.,, _ Photo is gift of Linda Morrell Spitzer, Lake Worth Bat mitzvah certificate for Linda Morrell Spitzer, Temple Ohev Shalom, Orlando. mitzvah has evolved and the related changes it sparked in Jewish education, practice and leadership, highlighting the critical role girls played in bringing equality to a patriar- chal religion. The exhibit also serves as a catalyst to explore how rites of passage are cel- ebrated in various cultures and religions. As the Florida connection section of the exhibit will explain, the trends in Florida bat mitzvah ceremonies mir- ror those around the natioq, startingwith a handful of girls in the 1950s and increasing as the ritual grew in poPularity over time. Today, bat mitzvah celebra- tions are as common as bar mitzvah in the state, except in Orthodox communities. Though many Orthodox girls have some form of bat mitz- vah ritual, the ceremonies are often held in alternative locations. Three such b'not mitzvah were held at the Jewish,Museum of Florida- FIU, which is often rented for events in the community. The museum will present a full array of public education programs to complement the themes of the exhibit, from panel discussions to performances, with mul- ticultural components to attract diverse segments of the community. The first bat mitzvah at Congregation Ohev Shalom in Orlando was Linda Morrell Spitzer on Nov. 16, 1951. Linda's father, Albert Mor- rell, came from Jewish par- Photo is gift of Linda Morrell Spitzer, Lake Worth Linda Morrell Spitzer's bat mitzvah Nov. 16,1951 was the first one at Congregation Ohev Shalom in Orlando. ents, but he wasn't brought up Jewish. He grew to love being a Jew and was always studying and learning to read Hebrew. He became the chairman of the Board of Education at Ohev Shalom. It was during one of his many trips to the Jewish Theological Seminar in New York to buy books for the synagogue, that he htard about the bat mitzvah ceremony. Linda began Hebrew school in third grade. Hebrew school was twice a week until her bat mitzvah at age 12 1/2. She decided to forgo being a Brownie and later a Girl SCout because of her commitment to her Hebrew studies;both ac- tivities were at the same time. Linda states: "I figured I went to Hebrew school all those years like the boys, I should get to have my day. I didn't want to wait until I was 13. I heard girls could have it earlier--we were inventing this there anyway. The rabbi was OK with tlffis, but girls were not allowed to read from the Torah." The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU is the only mu- seum dedicated to telling the story of 250 years of Florida Jewish heritage, arts and cul- ture. The museum is housed in restored historic buildings, at 301 Washington Ave. on South Beach, that were once synagogues for Miami Beach 's first Jewish congregation. For more information: 305-672- 5044 or www.jewishmuseum. corn or visit us on Facebook @JewishMuseumofFlorida. Seeking Kin: Bringing Faitlovitch to the screen and relatives back in touch By Hillel Kuttler BALTIMORE (JTA)--A "Seeking Kin" column in April 2012 excited Gal Adam Spinrad--and now the Cin- cinnati woman, has cause to be happy anew. Adam Spinrad has long been fascinated by the leg- end of her relative, Jacques Faitlovitch, who more than a century ago left his native Lodz, Poland, bound for Ethiopia. He devoted much of his life to the Jews living there, becoming one of the first European Jews to vouch for them as co-religionists and bring them into the fold. As a UCLA student in 1992, Adam Spinrad wrote a research paper about Faitlo- vitch, and over the years she has plumbed her mother's memory bank for information about him. So when last year's "Seeking Kin" article related the story of a Haifa man's efforts to honor Faitlovitch, Adam Spinrad contacted me. That's how she learned the column had heard from another Faitlovitch relative. That was Jonathan Faith, whose ancestors had settled in England and shortened their surname. Faith's branch turned out to be the one that Adam Spinrad's mother, who grew up in Lyon, France, remembered visiting in the Bat Mitzvah c Leah Golub, daughter of Craig and Stephanie Golub of Altamonte Springs, will be called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah on May 18 at Congregation Beth Am in Longwood. ' Leah is in the seventh grade at Milwee Middle School where she is part of the Engineering Magnet program. Leah is involved with volunteering at Beth Am's Sunday School. When not in school or at Beth Am she is with her friends, family or taking a dance class at Starving Artist. Leah shares her bat mizvahwith her parents, her sister Jillian and her brother Zachary of Altamonte Springs. early 1960s. A documentary titled "Jacques Faitlovitch and the Lost Tribes" was screened recently at the Tel Aviv Cin- emateque. The filmmaker, Maurice Dotes, believes it is the first cinematic treatment of Faitlovitch, who died in Israel in 1955. The documentary has its own family connection. Dores made the French-language "filfn with his daughter, Sar- ah-he was the director, she was production director. Both live in France. Dores said he made the film to shed light on Faitlovitch as "an important part of Jew- ish history and Ethiopian history," and someone who considered Ethiopian Jews "like they were brothers." "We can say that Faitlovitch was the first Europeafi man who took out Africans from Africa not to make them slaves, but to make them ministers and professors," said Dores, explaining that several Ethiopian Jews whom Faitlovitch sent for schooling in Europe would later serve under Emperor Haile Selassie. Beyond that, Dores re- lated by telephone from his apartment in central Tel Aviv hours before the film's screening that the Faitlovitch documentary will provide important historical context foK those whose knowledge of Ethiopian Jewry might be limited to the community's celebrated exodus for Israel during Operation Moses in 1984 and Operation Solomon in 1991. Courtesy Maurice Dores French-Jewish director Maurice Dores says his documentary may be the first cinematic treatment of Jacques Faitlovitch, above, who devoted his life to Ethiopian Jews. At a screening in Ashkelon, awoman raised in Ethiopiaap- proached Dores to thank him. "This is our history," she told him. It is Adam Spinrad's his- tory, too. Previously unaware of the film, she expressed an eager- ness to see it. Adam Spinrad said she would relay the news about its release to Faith and other relatives as far as Aus- tralia-some of whom she discovered after the initial "Seeking Kin" column ap- peared. They haven't figured out precisely how they are related to Faitlovitch or each other, only that they are. Adam Spinrad, for example, said she thinks her mater- nal grandfather was a first cousin of Faith's paterna] grandfather. - "Everybody's grown up knowing that Jacques Fait- lovitch is a relative," she said. "That's how we know we're related, even as we try to place each other on the [family] tree." In that way, she said, Faitlovitch is "kind of a linchpin." Dores, too, was drawn to Faitlovitch. He said they share a similarity as ethnologists fascinated by Africa and its people. Before turning to film- making, Dores said, he.was a physician and a psychiatrist who spent eight years living in Senegal and South Africa. He and his daughter had made an earlier documentary, "Black Israel," about Jews in Africa, North America and the Caribbean. "An ethnologist is not someone who explains to people 'you are like this' or 'they are like hat,' " Dores said. "An ethnologist gives another person an opportu- nity to speak, to be known in humanity. It's a question of respecting other people. And I think that Faitlovitch had respect for people who were without respect. This is a lesson of humanity." Please email Hillel Kuttler if you would like "Seeking Kin" to write about your search for long-lost relatives and friends; include the prin- cipal facts and your contact information in a brief email. "Seeking Kin " is sponsored by Bryna Shuchat and Joshua Landes and family in loving memory of their mother and grandmother, Miriam Shu- chat, a lifelong uniter of the Jewish people.