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MONTREAL, OCTOBER 29, 2008- The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) is organizing its first ever Group Bat Mitzvah, in conjunction with a program available at the YM-YWHA Ben Weider Jewish Community Centre. The program has adopted the same format followed by the Jewish day school system. There are currently eight girls from  four  EMSB schools – Royal West Academy, Royal Vale, Edinburgh and  FACE — enrolled.

The actual Bat Mitzvah ceremony and reception will be held in the spring at Beth Zion Congregation in Côte Saint-Luc. In the meantime classes have been taking place on Sunday mornings at the Ben Weider Jewish Community Centre, 5400 Westbury Ave. Teacher Samantha Druzin began the course by explaining that a bat mitzvah is a coming-of-age ceremony marking a Jewish girl's acceptance of responsibility for carrying out the commandments of the Torah.

The curriculum   covers a variety of topics that include: being a friend and associated mitzvoth, being a daughter, Jewish foods, Shabbat,  body  image, biblical women/modern female role models, Tikkun Olam/getting involved and  making a difference, Holocaust education and Israel. Field trips are planned to the Mada Community Centre to take part in the preparation of a hot kosher meal to  Montreal’s needy, and to a mikvah, a “ritual bath” used as a purification ceremony within Judaism. Immersion in a mikvah is also required during a traditional conversion to Judaism and in some cases for new cooking implements, although in a different pool of water. The girls will also learn how to bake challah. A considerable amount of time will be spent preparing for the ceremony, including music, song and the preparation of individual speeches.
Ms. Druzin has taught in the Jewish Heritage program at two EMSB schools and coordinated the Group Bat Mitzvah Program at Akiva School last year. She is currently studying at McGill for her Bachelor of Education while also working at the Shaare Zion Congregation as the Youth Group Advisor and at the Shaar Hashomayim Congregation as the instructor for the Holocaust education program for which she created the curriculum. Ms. Druzin has a Bachelor of Arts in Honours Jewish Studies and has also completed one year of studies toward a Master of Arts in Jewish Education.
The EMSB and the YM-YWHA are excited about this new partnership. “There are many Jewish girls attending EMSB schools and we felt the time had come to offer them such a program,” said EMSB Communications and Marketing Specialist Mike Cohen. “We hope this will grow over time.

Susan Apter, the Y’s assistant director, community programs and the coordinator of the Group Bat Mitzvah, notes that this evolved from the very successful program held last spring by the West Island YM-YWHA Jewish Community Centre. “That program is also ongoing this year, and going very well,” said Ms. Apter.

Plans are already underway to organize another YM-YWHA/EMSB Group Bat Mitzvah program  for 2009-2010. Anyone interested in  having their name placed on the list to be invited to an information meeting in early 2009 should call Susan at (514) 737-6551 ext. 320 or Mike at (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243. They can also email: or


Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213