Evelyn Rosen Budd, Etta Fay Orkin and Carole Epstein are celebrating their Second B’nai Mitzvah together this Shabbat, seventy years after the trio celebrated their first B’nai Mitzvah together.
The three were part of a group of seven girls at Temple of Aaron in St. Paul. These young women were among the first girls in the state to celebrate their B’nai Mitzvah. The year was 1946 and the war had just ended.
Evie, Etta Fay and Carole learned to read Hebrew and each of the girls read a prayer and then gave a short speech. Etta remembers the date clearly, April 5, 1946, because her older sister got married just two days later.
“It was a lovely evening. And very special for me to celebrate with these childhood friends. I met Evie when we were five at Temple of Aaron religious school. The two of us started talking that day and we’ve never stopped,” says Etta Fay.
Temple of Aaron began celebrating these young women’s B’nai Mitzvah as part of a movement to accord equal rights to women. Adath Jeshurun Congregation celebrated the first Bat Mitzvah in Minneapolis on February 5, 1943. The young woman was named Sybil Wolk. To read more about her Bat Mitzvah you can look in the 125 years of Adath Jeshurun Congregation book written by Etta Fay.
Evie, Etta Fay and Carole will celebrate along with Reva Kibort, Leroy Kieffer, Naomi Maul, Paul Pink, Norma Segal, Norton Stillman, Phyllis Sudit and Pincus Weitzman when they are all called to the Bimah to be honored with a group aliyah.
The custom of celebrating at age 83 derives from the verse in Psalm 90: “The days of our years are seventy, or if by reason of special strength, eighty years.” So at 70, one can start counting again. Add 13 years, and you get 83!
Whether it’s the first or second time, celebrating a B’nai Mitzvah is a wonderful way to honor one's commitment to Judaism and our community.