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Black Jewish Bat Mitzvah in the South

July 22, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A 13-year-old eighth grader at a Greensboro, N.C. school is probably the only Black Jewish Bat Mitzvah in the south, according to a report in the July News letter of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the association of Reform rabbis.

The News Letter reported that Afrique Isabel Kilamanjaro recently celebrated “her coming of age by becoming Bat Mitzvah at Temple Emanuel, with Rabbi Amold Task conducting the religious services.”

“More than 150 guests heard Afrique read the Torah with what experts considered flawless skill and a fine Sephardic accent. Afrique is perhaps the first Black Jewish Bat Mitzvah in the south and perhaps in the nation, in part because most Black Jews are Orthodox and do not recognize the role of women in conducting religious services,” according to the Reform News Letter.

The girl is “the youngest of four children of Dr. John Marshall and Coley Vick Kilamanjaro, editors in local universities and public schools, and publishers of the ‘Carolina Peacemaker’.”

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