Menu JTA Search

First Bas Mitzvah Ceremony in Alaskan History Held at U.S. Air Base

The first Bas Mitzvah ceremony in Alaskan history took place at the Elmendorf Air Force Base, the Air Force disclosed today. The Bas Mitzvah was Sandra Fishlow, 12-year-old daughter of Captain and Mrs. Jesse Fishlow.

An Air Force family, the Fishlows have had many homes since their daughter’s birth, from California to Alaska. The Bas Mitzvah received her first religious education at the age of three at Kessler Air Force Base in Mississippi, and continued her Jewish studies at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

During 1956 and 1957, the nearest religious schools was more than 50 miles away and the girl, with her parents, made the twice-weekly trip across the Canadian border. Sandra learned to speak Hebrew during this time. At the Elmendorf base, the child took part in classes conducted by Chaplain Joshua Wachtfogel, Alaska’s only rabbi.