Bar Mitzvah: A Jewish Boy's Coming of Age

Overview

The perfect book for a boy preparing for his own ceremony, or for anyone, Jewish or not, who would like to learn about this moving and joyous tradition. Kimmel provides historical background, explanations of ceremonial objects and rituals, and real-life bar mitzvah stories--funny, dramatic, and poignant--many of which are told in the participants' own voice. Illustrated.

The perfect book for a boy preparing for his own ceremony, or for anyone, Jewish or not, who ...

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Overview

The perfect book for a boy preparing for his own ceremony, or for anyone, Jewish or not, who would like to learn about this moving and joyous tradition. Kimmel provides historical background, explanations of ceremonial objects and rituals, and real-life bar mitzvah stories--funny, dramatic, and poignant--many of which are told in the participants' own voice. Illustrated.

The perfect book for a boy preparing for his own ceremony, or for anyone, Jewish or not, who would like to learn about this moving and joyous tradition. Kimmel provides historical background, explanations of ceremonial objects and rituals, and real-life bar mitzvah stories--funny, dramatic, and poignant--many of which are told in the participants' own voice. Illustrated.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kimmel (Days of Awe) unites his considerable storytelling gifts with affectionate understanding of the religious and cultural aspects of the bar mitzvah to produce a little something for everyone. Children with no previous exposure to Jewish beliefs and rituals will find the explanations here both clear and enticing, respectful of different religious traditions. Speaking in friendly, measured tones, Kimmel also accommodates Jewish readers from a variety of backgrounds, from Reform to Orthodox. He emphasizes the personal signficance of the ceremony by interpolating short first-person accounts of different men's and boys' bar mitvahs-not all of these are joyous, but each is powerful and distinct (an octagenarian describes how he had a second bar mitvah 67 years after his first; another man recounts the dramatic events of his 13th birthday in 1943, spent with Jewish partisans in the forests of Poland; a third recalls that his bar mitzvah was ``vulgar, crass, thoroughly unspiritual''-``and yet... something happened in spite of all that''). Plenty of quick illustrative stories and legends about wise rabbis and European Jewry contribute to the festivities. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 11-13. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Certainly, this is a book for every pre-bar mitzvah boy to read, but it is also a book for anyone who wants to learn about the beliefs, philosophies, and history of the religion. Kimmel describes the reason for the coming-of-age ceremony; what happens before and during it; and its origins and transformations throughout Jewish history. The author, in his informal, warm, conversational style, clarifies some esoteric facts about the sacred books of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims and looks at the similarities and differences in the three religions. Folklorist that he is, he has incorporated anecdotal material (including a poignant account by his father), rabbinic stories, and folktales into the narrative. Weihs's stylized, full-and half-page black-and-white scratchboard illustrations capture individuals and many of the traditional symbols and ritual objects associated with the ceremony. This is a livelier and more comprehensive treatment than Howard Greenfeld's Bar Mitzvah (Holt, 1981; o.p.), which deals thoroughly with bar mitzvah but not with the history or philosophical ramifications of Torah and prayer, nor with the ceremony's relationship to the ancient Temple service. Kimmel's title is likely to become a classic.-Marcia Posner, Federation of New York and the Jewish Book Council, New York City
Stephanie Zvirin
A scattering of stories, sayings, and parables allows the author's folktale expertise to peek through in this exploration of a Jewish boy's ceremonial entry into adulthood. Kimmel imparts basic information about Judaism, including some comparisons between Judaism and Catholicism and Islam, and discusses ritual objects, important texts, the Shabbat service, and the actual responsibilities of the bar mitzvah child. The vivid impact traditionally left by the ceremony is made clear through several short interviews (including one with a person whose entry into manhood during the Holocaust was marked by his killing an enemy) and through a fine, dramatic you-are-there chapter that positions the reader before a congregation as the principal in the big event. The last chapter explores how bar mitzvah customs and practices have changed, the final link in a book that goes beyond the ceremony itself to instill a sense of the commitment at its heart: "Bar mitzvah is not just about becoming a man. It is not even about becoming a Jew. It is about becoming a human being." Kimmel's main audience, of course, will be the young person with some prior Jewish education who's looking forward to his bar mitzvah, but readers simply curious about Jewish traditions will find lots of information ably presented. A companion book for girls, to be written by Barbara Diamond Goldin, is forthcoming. Glossary.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670855407
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/12/1994
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 8.38 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.17 (d)

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