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Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The Ultimate Insider's Guide

Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The Ultimate Insider's Guide

by Cantor Matt Axelrod

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In Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Cantor Matt Axelrod provides a practical, humorous guide for Jewish students and their families as they prepare for their “big day.” Breezy and friendly yet reassuring and focused, Axelrod easily cuts through the fear and stress that teens often feel in the months leading up to their bar or bat mitzvah. In addition to


In Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Cantor Matt Axelrod provides a practical, humorous guide for Jewish students and their families as they prepare for their “big day.” Breezy and friendly yet reassuring and focused, Axelrod easily cuts through the fear and stress that teens often feel in the months leading up to their bar or bat mitzvah. In addition to helping the student prepare for the bar or bat mitzvah by walking the reader through the service and providing helpful study tips for learning a Torah and haftarah portion, Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah also helps both students and their families cope with the stressors associated with the planning of the celebration, addressing everything from teens’ fears about making mistakes to time management skills to dealing with family over/underinvolvement. Cantor Axelrod’s experience helping hundreds of teens prepare for their bnei mitzvah will help students and families not just survive but understand and enjoy this important Jewish milestone.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Writing with a breezy and conversational tone, a Conservative cantor attempts to answer common questions. Why am I having a Bar/Bat Mitzvah? How should I practice? What if I make a mistake? Axelrod inserts plenty of anecdotes and advice from his personal experience helping hundreds of students prepare for these rites of passage. His jokes and asides are witty and humorous at times; however, they quickly become tiresome and overdone. While the background information and explanations about the prayers, the Jewish calendar, and the Torah and haftarah readings are useful, students might not find all of the tips and advice relevant to their own experience. The author makes assumptions that might not always be accurate or appreciated, such as his description of "a thirteen-year-old who probably just can't wait to add up the checks and get back to her blissfully temple-free routine." The introduction claims that this is "not a spiritual guide to the Jewish religion," but Axelrod frequently digresses to present his own opinions about Jewish life that may not be universally shared. "Just for Parents" text boxes and entire sections addressed directly to parents are included. Libraries in which Bar/Bat Mitzvah guides are popular may consider adding this to their collections; however, Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin's For Kids-Putting God on Your Guest List (Jewish Lights, 2007) is far superior.Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
Publishers Weekly
In this humorous and informative primer on becoming bar or bat mitzvahed, Axelrod helps kids and their parents navigate this meaningful but often stressful time with useful tips and back-to-basics knowledge. Axelrod, a cantor with over twenty years' experience training soon-to be thirteen-year-olds for their induction into the world of Jewish maturity and responsibility, takes readers on a step-by-step tour of what the celebration means, what tasks need to be accomplished for that special day, and how to make it through the process without succumbing to the myriad pressures. Although this volume is mostly handy for followers of the Conservative branch of Judaism, those unfamiliar with the multifaceted aspects of the milestone will also find Axelrod's calming voice and guiding hand helpful. Hebrew grammarians may find fault with his explanation of the term bar mitzvah, which he defines simply as coming of age, but Axelrod's deep knowledge and familiarity with this process, and especially his entertaining asides, will satisfy most. Agent: Anne Devlin
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Axelrod, a longtime cantor from New Jersey, offers young adults and their parents helpful information about preparing for a bar/bat mitzvah ceremony. Beginning with a clarification (bar/bat mitzvah means “of age,” not “a ceremony”), he goes on to discuss practice (“yes, you have to”), trope (“the secret code for singing any haftarah or Torah portion”), parts of the service, making mistakes, and dealing with over-involved parents. Although he opts for a humorous tone (comparing the bar/bat mitzvah service to a lavish Broadway musical with a child star), Axelrod’s message is both down-to-earth and serious: treat your service as an opportunity to be prepared and do your best, and take the initiative to become an active, rather than passive, participant in the ceremony. Chapters are divided into manageable sections with catchy subtitles (“Services Are Boring”), while frequent sidebars (“Insider’s Tips” and “Just for Parents”) and cartoon illustrations will keep even reluctant readers engaged. This is a must-have for Conservative and Reform congregational libraries as well as public libraries serving these populations.
Baltimore Jewish Lifestyles Insider
Cantor Matt Axelrod’s new guide is written primarily for kids, but how I wish it was around when I was planning my daughter’s bat mitzvah. The cantor’s simple explanations and attention to even the most obvious details of the b’nai mitzvah process sure would have come in handy. “Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah” may even appeal to those hard-to-please, eye-rolling young teens who are actually experiencing the rite of passage. And unlike so many books about bar and bat mitzvahs that spend so much time on the party, this book manages to be fun while only focusing on the religious aspects of the ritual. Your child might not admit it, but if you left it on his bed, he just might check it out. If not, you can read it yourself.
Rabbi Benjamin Blech
At last, Cantor Axelrod gives us a much needed guide to the modern-day perplexed who find the beauty of the bar mitzvah diminished by fear, stress, and unwarranted worries. With insight, wisdom and humor this book will help everyone find just the right mixture of joy and spirituality for the day that marks the turning point in a Jewish child's journey to religious maturity.
Hazzan Sheldon Levin
Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The Ultimate Insider’s Guide is an important resource for any young person preparing for a bar or bat mitzvah, written in a personal and amusing style that students will find entertaining and fun. Synagogues should give copies of this book to students when families select a bar or bat mitzvah date. If you want to better understand the service, get hints about how to learn your Torah or Haftarah portion, and discover ways of making the entire experience meaningful, then this is the book for you.
Rabbi Donald A. Weber
Cantor Axelrod has a wonderful ear for today's Jewish teenagers—their lives, their worries and their questions about where they fit into Jewish life. With direct talk, a sense of humor and a few nips at the heels of sacred (kosher) cows, this book presents the path to Bar/Bat Mitzvah as an exciting, manageable challenge. Every child and parent should read this before starting to prepare for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration!
Elizabeth Arnold
Engaging from the first sentence and jam-packed with relevant information, Cantor Axelrod's book is a wonderful roadmap for both parents and kids. Axelrod is that rare grown-up who has joyously retained the spirit of a big kid, albeit one with 'insider' information. He addresses everything from the structure of the service to the adolescent terror of embarrassment and public attention. The result is a book that makes you wonder 'What did parents and kids do without a book like this?!'.
Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben Ph.D
Cantor Axelrod has written an easily accessible guide for both parents and kids that will help anyone to have a successful Bar or Bat Mitzvah experience with the least stress possible.
Rabbi Simcha Weinstein
In an age when the ‘Bar’ seems to have eclipsed ‘Mitzvah’ it’s more important than ever for parents to instill a strong sense offaith and identity. Grab this book! You’ll be doing your kid(s) a favor.
Jewish Book World
By giving both parents and children a detailed roadmap, this book gives families guidelines that will make their simcha easier and more meaningful.
Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews
Axelrod has provided a new, engaging guide for the 21st century. It does not deal with the specifics of the training process, but provides a welcome, conversational handbook that everyone can use. It should be welcome in synagogue and school libraries, and might even be useful for tutors and clergy.

Product Details

Aronson, Jason Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
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File size:
992 KB
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Cantor Matt Axelrod (Congregation Beth Israel, Scotch Plains, NJ) has more than 20 years of experience preparing Jewish students for their bnei mitzvah. He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and a past member of the Executive Council of the Cantors Assembly.

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