The lovely Mayim Bialik, who used to play Blossom on the 1990s TV sitcom by the same name, then played the young Bette Midler in the movie Beaches, and nowadays has become the heartthrob of millions of geeks as neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory – spoke last Sunday at a National Museum of American Jewish History event marking the 90th anniversary of the Bat Mitzvah.
Apparently, the Bat Mitzvah, a synthetic celebration of some vague notion of adulthood in 12-year-old girls, represents—so says the Philadelphia Inquirer—a new and profound idea, “that girls would be treated the same as boys.” This equality was achieved, it turns out, by matching, gift for gift, haftorah for haftorah, overblown bash for overblown bash (you get where I’m getting) that other totally synthetic celebration of equally vague notions of adulthood, the Bar Mitzvah.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Mayim, who confessed to nursing her own little boy, Fred, through age 3 (“I believe in child-led weaning”). I just think she may not be the best advocate for rituals of adulthood…
The awkward girlfriend of the most popular Asperger syndrome patient Sheldon Cooper, told a house packed with 200 approving Jews at the museum’s Dell Theater that she was the first woman in her family to celebrate a bat mitzvah.
“Nearly 25 years later, the intensity of the religious covenant she undertook that day has only deepened,” reports the Inquirer.
It began on somewhat shallower grounds: in Hebrew, her name means “water,” and so water became the theme of her bat mitzvah: “The color scheme of her party was ocean blue. Live goldfish stared from glass bowls on tables. And for the guests, submarine sandwiches.”
How can you argue with this much adulthood rite stuff?
But, just to be fair, Ms. Bialik makes a pretty terrific grownup: In 2007 she earned a doctorate in neuroscience from UCLA, specializing in obsessive-compulsive disorder in adolescents with Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes lax muscle tone, cognitive disabilities, and a chronic feeling of hunger that can lead to life-threatening obesity.
And she just published a new book, Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way.
And, like I said, I absolutely love her. But the Bat Mitzvah and Bar Mitzvah thing? Never understood either.