B’nai Mitzvah rehearsals are hardly an uncommon sight at Temple Emanuel in Newton. The coming of age ceremony known as the Bar or Bat Mitzvah (Bar Mitzvah for males, Bat Mitzvah for females, plural B’nai Mitzvah) is one of the most familiar rites of passage in the world and typically takes place around the age of 13.

But a recent B’nai Mitvah rehearsal here stood out in a few ways. It was a larger than usual group, 22 participants being called to the Torah in the same ceremony. They were much older than typical participants, with this group ranging in age from 69 to 97. And nearly all of them — 21 of the 22 — were women.

The age and gender imbalance reflects the history of how women came forward to claim an equal role in Jewish practice. It started with the reform movement in the 19th century, which began the practice of men and women praying together, but the integration and inclusion of women’s voices has spread, gradually, through the major branches of Judaism. The first female rabbis were ordained in the 20th century. While bar mitzvahs for boys are an ancient tradition, the equivalent ceremony for girls is a relatively recent development. The first bat mitzvah in America took place in 1922, and it was decades before the practice became widespread in reform and conservative communities.

“Years ago, girls were not bat mitzvahed,” Lucille Shneider said. “I went to Hebrew School, I went to a Jewish school, but never bat mitzvahed. It just wasn't done then.”

Connie Rubin, now 88, went to Sunday school at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline for seven years — but she also was not Bat Mitzvahed.

Shneider and Rubin are getting that opportunity now, thanks to a program offered by 2Life Communities, a retirement community with campuses in Brighton, Newton and Framingham.

Giulia Fleishman is a rabbinical student at Hebrew College in Newton and one of the class' teachers. Being part of this ceremony has a special meaning for her, she says.

“As a woman studying to become a rabbi, I feel like it's this great meeting of a sort of renewing Judaism in a way that brings in more diverse voices.”

Fleishman said that the two other rabbinical students helping the women to study their Torah portions, and the cantorial student helping with the songs, are all women.

“It's exciting to see all of us up there,” she said.

Everyone here is well aware that their increased visibility as Jews is happening during a surge of anti-semitic violence, including deadly attacks this year at temples in Pittsburgh and outside of San Diego. But every woman I spoke to says this makes them want to assert their Jewish identity more than ever.

“My feelings are so much stronger now,” said Shneider. “Especially now— and I see what's happening because I was young during the Second World War, and I've met people who went through the Holocaust, and I could see it happening again with what's going on today. If we let it go and we don't do something about it now, it could escalate into something very terrible.”

Rubin said she’s also claiming her Jewish identity more than ever these days.

“Anti-Semitism, racism, all of that has reared its ugly head worse than ever. And it's affecting me a lot in my day-to-day living," she said. "I really am so thrilled about being a Jewish person and I want to stand up and yell, ‘Yes I am! Come get me.’"

Rubin and 21 other adult Jewish students became B'nai Mitzvot at Temple Emanuel on May 11, filling the temple to capacity with family from all over the country, and a contingent from Israel. 2Life Communities said they plan to continue these classes.