Just after her 82nd birthday, Jill Lazard, long-time Sea Point GP, Gardens Shul community member, mother of four and grandmother of eight, challenged her Rabbi.
“Why…” she asked, “does Judaism contain such a seemingly unfair and chauvinistic tradition of celebrating a man’s 2nd Barmitzvah at the age of 83, reconfirming his connection and devotion to Judaism, and not so for a woman?”
Jill had never had a batmitzvah at the age of 12 as most Jewish girls do now to mark their rite of passing into womanhood. She remembers that it was not a custom back then in the late 1940s. Rabbi Oshy Feldman, known for his excellent knowledge of the possibilities within the ‘halacha’, answered Jill with an excited grin. “Well then…” he exclaimed, “Why not you?”
The parasha or chapter of Beshalach reveals many miracles experienced by the Jewish people, and brings up gratitude mirroring Jill’s own sentiments about her own life. It was with this in mind that on Friday erev Shabbat, 26 January that Jill confirmed her commitments to Judaism and Hashem in the same shul as her grandfather Lazarus Tyfield had, in 1895.
Together with her family and friends, Jill celebrated her batmitzvah for the first time, at the age of 82 in the old Gardens Synagogue, SA Jewish Museum, Hatfield Street, Gardens, with a dvar torah and her own talented rhyming couplets.