Quotes by Jenna Weissman Joselit

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Where the male puberty rite, an established tradition of long standing, needed a jolt of consumerism, some "Hollywood ballyhoo," to render it attractive and meaningful to American Jews of the interwar years, its female analogue satisfied on its own modest terms. Mediating between the need of the folk, the mandate of the clergy, the plasticity of Jewish ritual and the rigidity of gender, the new female puberty rite fit perfectly with the tenor of the times.

Memory insinuated itself into every nook and cranny of the festivities, from the recitation of the Haggadah, a ritualized exercise in collective memory, to the physical appearance of the seder table. Assembled over time and place from a variety of sources--Grandmother's cupboard, Aunt Sadie's basement--the items displayed on the table served as tangible, physical embodiments of family history and collective memory. As much an opportunity for the display of family history as of elegance, the seder fostered a unique aesthetic.
Stretching back centuries and deeply rooted in history, bar mitzvah constituted an enduring link with the past; moreover, it seemed to provide an organically Jewish opportunity for sentimental expression and ritual celebration.