Project Detail: Cracking the monolith


Reportage and Documentary 2022




Isabella Franceschini



Project Info

Cracking the monolith

From Bar Mitzvah (male ceremony) to Bat Mitzvah (female ceremony) there is only one letter difference, but what happens in Bologna is something really powerful: it’s the access to adulthood of a young girl from a Jewish family belonging to the reform movement.

Sometimes a consonant is enough to discover a revolution and a hope. From Bar Mitzvah to Bat Mitzvah there is only one R that becomes a T, but what happens in Bologna IT in 2021, is something much more powerful: it is the access to adulthood of young girls from Jewish families belonging to the reform movement. It is them who read the Torah in a religious context that for four centuries has pursued a possible change. Inclusion and preservation of tradition.
The scenes of this quiet Bolognese jewish liturgy speak instead, have a voice. Feminine and plural. The voice is the centre of redemption. Voice is integration. It is equality.

And so it is. The voice that drags the Bolognese reformist community is the voice of a progressive Sephardic Jewish mother who wants equality in front of God and men for her children, through one of the oldest and most important moments of worship. And here the Bat Mitzvah in Reform Judaism becomes the future and hope for Noa, the daughter, who carries the sacred scrolls in her arms while a rabbi officiates the rite recognizing the powerful religious, symbolic and legal value of becoming an adult.

A small big step that respects Jewish laws but inserts them into the contemporary world. And it is the lyrical chanting of the persuasive female voices that unites and harmonizes the Bolognese community: within the Reformed congregations, about 1200 in 40 countries, situations like that in Bologna, bring together one and a half million Jews, witnesses, once again, of a capacity for adaptation that overcomes any stereotype.