Chabad Bas Mitzvah Honors Daughter with Memorable Event

[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]

One of the joys of serving as editor for Community is that I get to meet and get to know people from all parts of the community. And over the years, I have shared many life cycle events, including b’nai mitzvah at all of Louisville’s congregations.

There was, however, one gap in my experience. Until last summer, I had never been to an Orthodox or Chabad bas mitzvah. Last August, that changed. Malky Levy, the daughter of Rabbi Yossi and Shternie Levy, marked her bas mitzvah at the Chabad Jewish Center in Cincinnati, and they included me in the celebration.

I was not sure what to expect. I knew that Malky would not be leading a service nor reading from Torah as is common practice in Conservative and Reform congregations, and I expected that men and women would be separated for the festivities.

As Rabbi Levy explained to me, the bas mitzvah is a celebration of the young woman’s internal beauty, her learning and her coming into her own as a Jewish woman with specific responsibilities.

“Women and men each have their own responsibilities,” Rabbi Levy stated. “Women are responsible for education, family purity, making challah, lighting the candles” and other clearly defined roles.

To honor their daughter, the Levys chose the theme of kol kevoda bas melech panima, the beauty of the princess is within, and they focused on the ideas of tzinyut, modesty, and what Malky can do in the world. The family chose this phrase since her name, Malka, means queen.

“Family and friends from all walks of life came to share the celebration,” Rabbi Levy said. And the celebration itself was designed to give Malky “such a good experience that she will remember it forever.”

The event incorporated Torah, tefilah and tzedakah. Malky delivered a d’var Torah that demonstrated the depth of her learning and her commitment to a life of mitzvot, serving as teacher for the women who had gathered to honor her. Everyone joined in reciting Psalms, Chapter 13, and everyone had the opportunity to give tzedakah.

Shternie Levy honored her daughter by sharing a letter she had received from the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the occasion of her own bas mitzvah. And Malky honored members of her family who serve as her role models, praising each individually and presenting them with roses.

Although it was a women-only event, Rabbi Levy did stop in briefly and shared a few words that conveyed his pride in his daughter’s accomplishments.

A musician from New York played the keyboard and sang, and the women got up to dance. The room was festively decorated to reflect the theme and everyone enjoyed a lovely buffet.

“People told us they’d never experienced anything like this,” Rabbi Levy said. “We were happy to show people and our daughter, you’re still able to have significant event and memories and fun plus accommodate all the guests from all walks of life. And, all had a wonderful time with true appreciation, knowing that this bas mitzvah was a true and meaningful event. Without compromising our beliefs, we are still able to have fun.”

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