About the Book
About the Authors
Yesterday I realized with dismay that my son's
Bar Mitzvah is only nine months away and I haven't even begun to plan!
Invitations, locations for a celebratory party, music, food--all of
these key elements await my careful decisions...but I had no idea where
Thank goodness then, for The Ultimate Bar/Bat Mitzvah
Celebration Book: A Guide to Inspiring Ceremonies and Joyous Festivities.
In a friendly, conversational tone, the authors take a harried mom like
me by the hand, and walk us through the process. We learn in the first
half of the book about the meaning of this wonderful Jewish tradition...
that our child now will be recognized as an adult in the eyes of our
religion, acquiring not only new privileges (such as being counted in
a minyan, quorum of ten Jews needed to read from the Torah) but new
social and religious obligations as well (such as observing the fast
days and thinking about others). The second half of the book provides
the nuts and bolts of every part of the celebration. From advice on
customizing your invitations, to lighting, to planning centerpieces
that are themselves a mitzvah--a religious obligation--it's hard to
think of a question that the authors haven't addressed.
Whether you are new to planning a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, are
perhaps a part of an interfaith family like mine, or you simply want
a step-by-step guide to all of the issues you need to consider, this
helpful book provides it all. I particularly appreciated the frank recognition
of the social pressure to conform to "the overblown 'Bar Mitzvah
du jour' syndrome." The authors provide constructive suggestions
for countering social pressure, such as by participating as a family
in Judaic activities. Another lovely, contemporary aspect of the book
is its recognition that the Bar/Bat Mitzvah may be happening in the
context of an interfaith or an adoptive family, and the inclusion of
specific ideas for incorporating other cultural identities into the
But the most detailed sections of the book are about the
Bar/Bat Mitzvah process itself, from the time your child begins his/her
Hebrew study, to mitzvah projects, to the celebratory elements of the
big day. Again, with a most contemporary slant, even these elements
are discussed not only for the traditional situation but also for adult
Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Both for families already familiar with this important
ritual and especially for interfaith families, this useful resource
book provides helpful yet simple descriptions of the service and all
of its elements, including Torah portion, haftarah, and blessings by
the family and the rabbi.
There's no sense of a right or wrong way to do things
that might put off an interfaith family. Rather, the tone is welcoming,
reassuring and cheerful, offering specific suggestions for personalizing
a Bar/Bat Mitzvah (substituting gender-neutral blessings, including
poems relevant to the child) while cautioning that you must check with
your synagogue to determine the degree to which this is possible.
Many details ignored by other books on the subject are
thoughtfully included here. Would you know how to prepare a program
guide for the service? If you did want to provide it because many of
the guests are not Jewish or not familiar with the service, it would
help to consider some of the topics the authors suggest, such as explaining
the synagogue rituals, offering alternative silent meditations, informing
guests about your child's mitzvah project, or providing a list of friends
and family participating in the service.
As for me, I'm relaxed now. I've acquired lots of good ideas, even some great recipes and those hard-to-find portion size guidelines that will help me plan a great event!