Filmmaking Intensive: Bat Mitzvah Dress Code



This documentary short was created by Beth Cooper Benjamin Ed.D., Director of Research at Ma’yan, in collaboration with a group of teenage girls. The girls interviewed each other and their families about the experience of deciding what to wear for their b’not mitzvah. This film was screened at the What To Wear: Women, Clothing, Religion event at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City on March 11, 2012. Tablet Magazine covered the event.

The session involved three generations of women in different families discussing the issues addressed in the film. The Filmmaking Intensive: Bat Mitzvah Dress Code was a new educational initiative of Ma’yan. In the film, the girls tackle questions about the history, custom, and expectations surrounding Bat Mitzvah attire, exploring what was worn at b’not mitzvah, and how it was decided. In addition to Ma’yan staff, documentary filmmaker Nicole Solomon, who created the “minimentary” for Ma’yan’s That’s Not Fair! Political Theater Apprenticeship, advised the project.

Though this was the first time we ran the workshop, it had all the fundamentals of a Ma’yan educational program: It was a dynamic, interactive experience that taught real-world skills while challenging teens to address more abstract, open-ended questions. It encouraged awareness of one’s community and self-reflection. Participants thought critically and asked tough questions about something often taken for granted. The program also developed a very practical and variously applicable skill set, including how to interview effectively and how to shoot and edit video. For more information please contact Beth Cooper Benjamin at

If you’re interested in talking about the film, we’ve provided a set of discussion questions, available here

If you’re interested in conducting your own Bat Mitzvah interviews, we have a set of interview questions here.