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Tiffany Haddish Is Studying Hebrew To Prepare For Her Bat Mitzvah

The comedian, whose dad was an Eritrean Jew, said the hardest part of getting ready for the ceremony is learning to read another language.

Tiffany Haddish is diving deeper into her Jewish roots by having a bat mitzvah ceremony for herself — and by studying Hebrew. 

“I’m going to read from the Torah and everything,” Haddish told USA Today about the upcoming ritual. 

The comedian’s father was a Jewish refugee from Eritrea and her mom was a Jehovah’s Witness from the U.S. ― a heritage that she jokingly claims makes her a “Jew-Jo.” Haddish didn’t know about her Jewish roots until she was a teenager because her dad wasn’t part of her childhood, The Jerusalem Post reports. Haddish reconnected with her father as an adult, just in time for him to walk her down the aisle at her wedding to her ex-husband.

Haddish said she has been exploring her heritage since meeting her dad and now feels “connected even more to the Jewish culture.” She visited Eritrea last year to bury her father and became a dual citizen this year.

She plans to have the bat mitzvah ceremony coincide with the premiere of “Black Mitzvah,” her upcoming Netflix comedy special about her journey of self-discovery. The special does not yet have a public release date.

Comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish honored her heritage at last year's Academy Awards by wearing a traditional Eritrea
Comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish honored her heritage at last year's Academy Awards by wearing a traditional Eritrean dress. 

Bar or bat mitzvah literally means a “son or daughter of the commandment.” During such a ceremony, which typically take place around the age of 12 or 13, the participant reads from the Torah in Hebrew and may also deliver a speech reflecting on a portion of the scripture. 

Adult bar or bat mitzvah celebrations are less about marking a coming of age and more about participants’ desires to confirm and celebrate their Jewish identities. Many synagogues in the U.S. now have special programs for adults who didn’t have bar or bat mitzvah ceremonies as children, and the classes often include education about Judaism, Jewish values and the Hebrew language.

Haddish attends the premiere of "The Kitchen" on Aug. 5.
Haddish attends the premiere of "The Kitchen" on Aug. 5.

Haddish said the “hardest” part about preparing for the bat mitzvah is learning to read in another language. But, she said, “I like to expand my brain, I like to learn.”

Before entering comedy, Haddish worked as an “energy producer” at bar and bat mitzvahs, getting paid to hype up guests on the dance floor. She worked that job for about 11 years, she said. She recently realized that she hosted ceremonies for two children of Eric Schotz, who co-produced ABC’s new revival of “Kids Say the Darndest Things” with Haddish. 

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