Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Today is the first day of the month of Tevet. Today is called Eid Al-Banat, or Girls' Day. Many North African communities were accustomed to celebrating this day in the past, and today in Israel the celebration has been renewed. Dozens of Eid Al-Banat events with singing and learning are beng held on ZOOM. And what are we celebrating? Sisterhood and female power.
In Tunisia they would hold a celebration on this day for all girls who had reached the age of mizvah performance during the year. All the Bat Mitzvah girls would gather together, thank their mothers and grandmothers, and receive gifts - the most precious of which was the opportunity to perform mitzvot. In Thessaloniki, Greece, women would ask forgiveness from one another with deep emotion, just like on Yom Kippur eve. On the island of Djerba, this was known as the day of bachelorettes, who gathered together for the occasion. Participation in an event on this day was considered a good omen for getting married in that same year. Miriam Peretz spoke tonight to a gathering of women about her childhood memories from Morocco: "We would stop everything for the sake of this day that was all about me and you, a day of saluting the daily heroism of women. Heroism is not only on the battlefield, but also in the education of children and in community life. This was a holiday for all the heroines of daily living."
There is an ancient source for the significance of this date. In the days of the Second Temple, at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, intermarriage was common. But on this day, the first of Tevet, Ezra ordered an end to assimilation. Men stopped marrying foreign women and instead established their homes with Jewish girls.
We are part of the ingathering of the exiles generation. Yet not only have Jews arrived here from many lands, but their traditions and customs, too.
Happy Eid Al-Banat.