Same Place, Different Time

102315_Insider_flashbackAnne King, 64, is a native Baltimorean and has attended Chizuk Amuno Congregation all her life.

She went to Hebrew school, had her bat mitzvah and saw the congregation move from its downtown location on Eutaw Place to Stevenson Road in Pikesville.

After getting married (her husband also had his bar mitzvah at Chizuk Amuno), it was a natural choice that she would send her children to the same Hebrew school she attended.

But what is most extraordinary about King is that she had, not one, but two bat mitzvahs there: one when she was a teenager and one as an adult.

Describe your first bat mitzvah.
I had my first bat mitzvah on Oct. 23, 1964. It was a Friday night. They used to do the girls on Friday nights and the boys on Saturday morning because the girls didn’t read Torah, they only read a haftarah. I was paired with my first cousin who was six months older than me. We were very close then, and we’re very close now. I did a haftorah and that was pretty much it. It was very different then.

How did you come to the decision for a second bat mitzvah?
I happened to be at synagogue one day when a good friend of mine had their adult bat mitzvah. The rabbi came up to me and said, “This is something you should do.” I guess the timing was right, and I found myself joining a fresh group of adult women who chose to have a bat mitzvah, most of whom had not had one previously. As a result of the class, I guess I was just mature enough to understand and to want the knowledge and to appreciate what was going on.

Describe the second one.
In the class there were about 17 or 18 people, and for the purpose of the bat mitzvah ceremony itself, they split us in half. Part of the class was learning the Hebrew. [The other part was] taking the parshah for that day and dividing it up so that we each had a part in both the Torah reading and the haftarah reading. We all came together for the blessings and did it as a group, but we also had our individual parts. Part of it was the ruach, the camaraderie. Some [of the women] had grown up in Orthodox  homes where women didn’t have the opportunity, and they wanted the opportunity. This was affording them that opportunity.

What did you learn that as a teenager you may have been too young to understand?
I learned an appreciation for the rituals for the spirit of it for the connection that I don’t think a [teenager] can get. I don’t think my religious school education did that for me, but the second time around, the two-year preparation brought that home to me in many ways.

jkatz@midatlanticmedia.com

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