Shanghai Jim (shanghai_jim) wrote in little_details,
Shanghai Jim

Bar Mitzvah & Being Jewish in Pre-WWII California

I'm worrying that my main character, who is Jewish, is based on my ideas of Jewish identity post-World War II. Back in 1935, when he turned thirteen, how much of his bar mitzvah ceremony would he have had?

His parents moved West from the Midwest; I'm not sure yet whether one or both should be a first-generation immigrant. Also not sure (I'm pretty much making these people up from very general information) what kind of Judaism they practice. (Judging from the website of the oldest temple congregation in San Leandro, it's Conservative.) The father is either a barber or a tailor, with his own shop in the house; the mother mostly keeps house but may have other money-making crafts or services; the family is three sons, two daughters; they live in San Leandro, California.

This is mostly character background detail and won't actually be described within the narrative. But I do mention his bar mitzvah ceremony twice, so I needed to see if he would actually have one and what it might have entailed compared to the stuff you see today. (Note: I have never been to a bar mitzvah. Actually I'm not even Jewish.)

Searched: bar mitzvah (for general background and practices), bar mitzvah 1935 (brought up the movie Bar Mitzvah (1935), San Leandro temple (found Temple Beth Sholom, established 1886—always nice when you find direct information like that.)
Tags: usa: california, ~religion: judaism

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