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Discussion: A Soul in So Many Words

Discussion: Baby Talk

15 mins


Get the girls thinking about what a soul is and all the words they’ve heard that describe the soul. This will give greater context and common ground for future activities and discussions.

15 mins



9A 9 blackboard or white board and a writing instrument 9A 9 light bulb

9A 9 baby photo of each girl (consider including this request in the meeting invitation so that everyone arrives prepared) 9A 9 computer with an Internet connection. This link will take you to a video showing you the sped-up transformation of girl from an infant to a ten-year old: (OPTIONAL) 9Seating 9 arrangements ideal for sharing (such as placing chairs in a circle)

HOW TO DO IT ASK: What does a person need to be alive? Allow the girls to answer. Some common answers might include a brain, a heart, water, food, air, etc. ASK: Now, what makes each person special? If you were to describe your mother, would you say that she has a brain and eats food and breathes air? Everybody does that! What makes her mother who she is? Allow the girls to answer. They might discuss her personality or how nice she is, etc. SAY: For a person to be who she is, she needs more than blood pumping through her heart and air going in and out of her lungs. She also needs to have a special energy within her that helps make her the person she is, and not just a bunch of body parts. Hold up the light bulb. Ask the girls if they know what it is. EXPLAIN: Even when it’s not plugged in, this is still a light bulb – but it’s when energy is running through it – that is when a light bulb really becomes something special and gives off a light. ASK: Those things that make your mother special – that’s kind of like her light – or as we call it – her soul. Have any of you ever heard of the word “soul?” SAY: There are a lot of other words that people use to describe the soul. Can you think of any of them? I’ll write them all on this board!


)) What do you think a person would be like if she didn’t have a soul? )) Why do you think souls are often compared to lights? )) Bodies can get sick. Do you think souls can get sick, too? [9]

Write the answers down. Some possible answers: Spirit, Glow, Spark, Energy, Inner Light, G-d’s Touch, G-d’s Breath, A Piece of G-d etc. EXPLAIN: The soul isn’t anything you can really see or touch – but it’s real all the same. Today, we’re going to learn about the soul – in fact, we’re going to learn about TWO kinds of souls that we all have and how they help make us the person we are.

chapter 1: get to know the souls


Show the girls that there is more to a person than what is skin deep, even when that person is a baby. This exercise is a nice ice breaker but also helpfully leads into a discussion of the Natural Soul.

HOW TO DO IT Have each girl hold up her baby picture. If using the online video instead, show the video in its entirety and ask the group the questions (but framed to discuss the girl in the video rather than baby pictures). Ask the girls, one at a time or as part of a group discussion, what they see in their pictures and to describe the babies in the photos. ASK: How have you changed since the photo was taken? SAY: Today, when you need something from your parents or want attention, you probably speak up. When you were a baby, you likely cried when you needed something. How do you think you knew to cry when you needed something? Did anyone teach you that?


)) Are you the same person in that photo? How are you the same and how are you different? )) There’s something within each child, something you can’t see in a photo, that helps her survive. It is the thing that tells her to cry when she needs something. What do you think that is and where do you think that comes from? )) Then there is that “special something” about each person that seems to emerge more and more as she gets older. Every Jew is born with a soul1 – given to her by G-d. This helps shape the person she is. Today, we’re going to learn about this special energy and how it becomes even more important when you become a Bat Mitzvah.

the bmc essentials: bat mitzvahs and beyond / Guiding Girls To Adulthood With Grace, G-d and Giggles


Activity: Build the Rope

Activity: Which Helpful Hero Are You?

30 mins


Demonstrate how each Mitzvah helps create a strong connection to G-d.

15 mins



On each index card, write a Mitzvah. You can get the girls to help you, or you can do this before the meeting.

Hand out the Helpful Hero Quiz to each girl. Ask the girls to select the answers that best suit them. Give them time to quietly do this.

Attach one Mitzvah card to one end of each length of string with a paper clip or tape. Ask one girl to hold all the lengths of string in one hand (holding the ends that do NOT have the Mitzvah cards attached). Place the other ends of the strings (the ends that have a Mitzvah card on them) around the room. It will look almost like the one girl has cast several fishing lines.

WHAT YOU NEED 9Many 9 long pieces of string 9Recipe/index 9 cards (enough for each piece of string) 9Pens 9 or pencils 9Paper 9 clips or tape

Ask another girl to select one string and read the Mitzvah out loud. Ask her if she will do what the Mitzvah says. If she does (or better yet, if it’s a Mitzvah she can actually perform right there on the spot), she can pick up that string and hold it. The girl holding the other end of the string will still be holding onto her end. ASK: When you hold the string, can you feel a bit of tension? You can feel that someone or something is at the other end? ASK: How strong is that string? How strong is that connection? If I had scissors, could I easily cut it? (Yes.) How could we make the connection stronger?

Once everyone is done, tell them to add up all the A, B, C and D answers. Then hand out the ‘answer’ sheet. Ask the girls to find the “Helpful Hero” that they scored highest in. EXPLAIN: Your Helpful Hero is your Natural Soul and your Gdly Soul working together. There’s a part of you that’s naturally happy doing these things, and a part of you that tells you that they’re good for you, too! In those cases, both your G-dly Soul and your Natural Soul are both excited and satisfied. This is great! Have the girls look up the “Helpful Hero” that they scored the lowest in. EXPLAIN: Is there a part of you that reads those descriptions and says, “Hmm, that doesn’t look like fun.” or “Yikes! I have a hard time imagining myself doing those!” That’s ok – that’s your Natural Soul talking. However, these are all important Mitzvot, too. Your G-dly Soul needs to step up and say, “Let’s give these a try anyway. G-d wants us to and maybe they won’t be so bad after all.” Doing these challenge your Natural Soul and even train your Natural Soul to follow what the G-dly Soul knows is best.


Many Mitzvot can be done in the form of good deeds. The desire to do certain good deeds may come naturally and others might challenge us. This quiz lets the girls discover both.

WHAT YOU NEED 9Copies 9 of the Helpful Hero Quiz (see Appendix 3) 9Pens 9 or pencils

SAY: How about you choose another string, but still hold on to the one you already have. Have the girl choose another Mitzvah to agree to/perform. She now holds two strings in her same hand.


)) Who or what is at the other end of the string? What or who are you connecting to when you do a Mitzvah? (G-d, the world, your best self, your G-dly Soul) )) What happens as you do more Mitzvot? (Your connection strengthens)9 [33]

Have her continue to select/do more Mitzvot, continually adding to collection of strings in her hand. EXPLAIN: The more Mitzvot you do, the more strings you collect. Together, these strings form a rope. ASK: Is a rope stronger than a single piece of string? (Yes.) Is it harder to cut? (Yes.) Can you feel even more tension with a rope than with a string? (Yes.)

chapter 2: becoming a bat mitzvah


)) Do you feel good after having done a good deed? Do you feel good even after having done a good deed that you wouldn’t normally do? Does that inspire you to do more? )) Have any of you been performing Mitzvot without even knowing that’s what you were doing? the bmc essentials: bat mitzvahs and beyond / Guiding Girls To Adulthood With Grace, G-d and Giggles


Discussion: Totally Embarrassing Puberty Tales 30 mins


Remind the girls that some of the embarrassing changes and awkwardness they experience as they go from being a girl to a woman are normal. They’re even the sort of things girls bond over! WHAT YOU NEED 9Set 9 the mood for sharing – consider creating a slumber party feel by having everyone sitting on the ground with lots of pillows, blankets, bowls of popcorn and candy 9Pen 9 and paper for each girl (she can use her journal if she wishes) 9A 9 hat or bowl filled with different “totally embarrassing puberty tales and questions” (examples of these are provided)

HOW TO DO IT Get everyone on the ground, comfortable and ready to share. Sitting in a circle may be ideal. SAY: I remember when my friends and I were your age. It was such a strange time! We’d come back from summer break and all of a sudden one of us would be three inches taller, another girl would have just gotten her first bra and another friend suddenly became boy crazy! It felt like there were all these changes going on. Some of us felt excited. Some of us couldn’t wait. Some of us were nervous. Some of us were embarrassed. Some of us felt left behind. SAY: No matter how you feel about this time of your life, chances are, you’re not alone. Other girls have totally been there. In fact, today, we’re going to share some of the experiences of other girls your age! Inside this bowl is a story from a girl your age. Take one and pass it along.

ally flirty and I love getting attention from him. I dream about kissing him and everything!”

Once everyone has a card, go around and ask each girl to read hers aloud. If she wants to, she can even act it out for people. Encourage laughter, giggling, feedback and even questions.

• “One day after gym class a girl came up to me and handed me some deodorant. She said, “In case you didn’t know, your armpits really smell! I think you could use this.” I turned around and a whole group of girls were laughing at me. I felt so dumb. How was I supposed to know it was time to start using deodorant?”

Once the girls have each had their turn, ask them if they want to share their own story or question. Give them a choice – they can say it out loud, or they can write it in their journal, tear the piece of paper and place it in a hat/bowl to be anonymously shared.

• “All my friends are obsessed with this one pop star. They think he’s so cute and so talented and they know every song he sings. I don’t get what the big deal is – he isn’t that good! I said so once and they totally got mad at me. Now I feel like a big weirdo.”

Let the girls dive into the experience and give their own advice, answers – but be sure to provide some guidance where needed.

• “Compared to my friends, I feel so ugly. I just got braces, my nose seems too big and to make matters worse, I keep getting zits! My mom says this is just a phase but that doesn’t make me feel any better right now. I wish I was prettier. What can I do?”

Below are some “Totally Embarrassing Puberty Tales & Questions” that you can place in the sharing bowl. Feel free to add your own. • “My mom and I decided it was time I got a training bra. We decided to get one after class the next day. But guess who picked me up from school? My dad! He said my mom got called into work and that HE was going to take me shopping. It was so awkward! I think even he felt embarrassed when he explained to the sales lady that we needed help picking a bra out. Gah!” • “Is it wrong to want to kiss a boy? There’s a guy at Temple that I have a big crush on and I’m pretty sure he likes me too. He’s re-



chapter 3: trials & tribulations along the way body issues, confidence and being true to yourself

)) Do any of these stories sound like something that might have happened to you or your friends? )) Has anything ever happened to you when you were a kid that you were so embarrassed by at the time, but now you can sort of laugh at it? Maybe the next time you feel embarrassed, a part of you can say, “Well, one day I won’t feel this bad over it!” )) Did you ever have a question about growing up that you were too embarrassed to ask? You can write it down and put it in the sharing bowl if you like – I’ll read them so that no one can figure out who asked!

• “A girl at school is allowed to wear make-up, but I’m not. One day, she let me borrow her lipstick. I guess I forgot I had it on and I rubbed my mouth. Little did I know, I had smeared the lipstick right across my cheek. I looked like a total clown and didn’t realize it until my teacher asked what was all over my face in front of the whole class. So not cool!” • “I’m the only girl of my group of friends who hasn’t gotten her period yet. I just want to get it and be like everyone else. Instead, I feel like a baby. Why is this happening?”

the bmc essentials: bat mitzvahs and beyond / Guiding Girls To Adulthood With Grace, G-d and Giggles


Activity: Worthy Women in Words

Story: Stream that Soul

30 mins


Discover a world of female role models and show the girls what they can take from each of them. WHAT YOU NEED 9A 9 copy of the Worthy Women in Words template for each girl (see Appendix 4) 9Pens 9 or pencils 9Highlighters 9

30 mins


SAY: Here’s a story about a girl your age named Becky:

Provide the girls with a paper that has four large circles on it. The circles are labeled with “Women from the Torah,” “Women in my family,” “Women in my community,” and “Famous women.” At the bottom of the page is a sentence that says, “Like my heroes, I want to be …”

When Becky was very young, her mother was her hero. As a little girl, Becky thought her mother was the most beautiful, the most funny and the most loving person on the planet. Becky would run home from school, give her mother a huge hug and then stay by her side until bedtime.

SAY: There are so many fantastic women in the world to look up to! We can learn from them and we can be inspired by them!

As she grew up, Becky became more independent. She still loved her mother very much but she also liked to have lots of fun with her friends. Her relationship with her mother was still generally a happy one until Becky started junior high school. Suddenly, it was like her mother was an alien and a prison guard, wrapped in one.

Have the girls write the names of women that they admire in the circles that fit best. For example, in the “Women in my family” circle, they might write the name of a Bubby who survived the Holocaust. Ensure the girls write at least one name in each circle. Allow the girls some time to do this. If they’re not familiar with women of the Torah, do a brainstorm with them. Role Models for Real might come in handy as well. SAY: Now, think about what you like about each woman. Draw a line from a woman’s name to a space outside the circle and write a positive characteristic she has that you admire. Write them all down! Make sure you write at least two characteristics per woman. If you like a lot about her, do as many as you want! Once completed, instruct them to look at the characteristics and find any that appear more than once. Tell the girls to highlight these repeat words. SAY: These are characteristics that you really admire. At the bottom of the page, complete the sentence by using these words. If there are other characteristics you wrote down that mean a lot to you but didn’t get repeated, write these down here too!


)) Which circle did you have the hardest time filling in? Why? )) Sometimes we admire traits in other people that we already see in ourselves and like. Sometimes we admire traits that we wish we had. Is this the same with some of your heroes? )) Women are great role models, but so are men. Are there any men that you look up to? [51]

chapter 4: the woman you want to become


Show the girls how the G-dly Soul can help them recognize and achieve their goals.

WHAT YOU NEED 9A 9 computer with Internet access

Her mother would never let her do what she wanted. Like when Becky wanted to go to a friend’s sleepover, her mom said no – for no reason! And when Becky wanted to get a cute new top, her mother said no because the style was too revealing! Didn’t her mother understand that this was the new fashion? And when Becky became bored with her piano classes and wanted to quit? Her mother forced her to still take lessons. Becky thought that was so dumb. Didn’t her mother understand anything? Every time Becky’s mother would do something that Becky didn’t like, Becky would pout. She’d slam her door. She’d even sometimes yell at her mom and holler that she hated her. It seemed as though they were always fighting. Becky couldn’t wait to grow up and move away and finally get to live by her own rules. One day Becky had a new friend over named Kayla. It was Wednesday and the girls were eager to go to the mall. “Mom?” Becky asked, “Kayla and I want to go shopping tonight. That’s OK, right?” “Becky, you know that your Zadey is coming over tonight,” Becky’s mother said. “We’re spending time as a family this evening.” “But mommmmmm,” Becky moaned. “Zadey comes over all the time! I can still say hi to him and still go to the mall.” “Becky, the answer is no,” her mother replied. Becky felt so angry. Her mom was being so unfair – and now she

the bmc essentials: bat mitzvahs and beyond / Guiding Girls To Adulthood With Grace, G-d and Giggles


BMC Essentials