Non-binary teen celebrates Jewish religious rituals


The Jewish coming of age ritual is typically gendered, with males attending a Bar Mitzvah and females attending a Bat Mitzvah. 14-year-old Esther is non-binary, but they are still a deeply religious Jewish, so their mother Miriam worried so much whether it would be possible to hold a ceremony for her child. “I was quite concerned because if something is important in your coming of age, it should reflect who you are in a person and not squeeze you into the traditional two genders that we happen to have just because of history,” said the mother, whose other child is gay, so she struggles on whether her children will be accepted by the Jewish community. The local synagogue agreed to hold a gender-neutral ceremony for Esther. They worked with student rabbi Gabriel Webber at their synagogue in York to adapt the ceremony. Webber came to the decision to name the gender-neutral ceremony a “B’nei Mitzvah” because “b’nei” is a plural term which could refer to a mixed-gender group of people. The rabbi says it is the first ceremony of such kind, but if there are more non-binary Jews, the synagogue is ready to repeat it.


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