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Bar/Bat Mitzvah Books
(Fiction and Nonfiction)

I have linked the books to, but I have linked certain items to other booksellers when Amazon didn't carry them.

As a warning, I have put up pictures of the book covers to give you somewhat an idea of the style of each book (I know, I know. "Don't judge a book by its cover") so the pages may load slowly.

Books for Bar/Bat Mitzvah Children

About the B'Nai Bagels
About the B'Nai Bagels
Mark Seltzer thought he had enough aggravation studying for his Bar Mitzvah and losing his best friend. It's the last straw when his mother becomes the new manager of his Little League baseball team and drags his older brother, Spencer, along as the coach. No one knows what to expect with a mother for a manager, but soon Mark and the other players are surprised to see how much they're improving due to coach Spencer's strategy and helpful hints from "Mother Bagel."
Pink Slippers, Bat Mitzvah Blues
Pink Slippers, Bat Mitzvah Blues
Alyssa has become an adult, according to Judaism; since she has completed her Bat Mitzvah, she is expected to make her own decisions. And, instead of joining the temple's confirmation class, concentrating on schoolwork or socializing with friends, Alyssa chooses to pursue her dance lessons. Her priorities shift, however, when her best friend Ellen becomes ill, and when Alyssa's Jewish identity becomes more important to her. Alyssa realizes that a delicate balance between avocation and responsibility can exist if she is strong enough to make difficult decisions. Readers will enjoy the universal conflicts Wolff eloquently delineates; her characters are well realized and lend additional credibility to the story

description by Publisher's Weekly
G-d on Your Guest List
For Kids--Putting G-d on Your Guest List : How to Claim the Spiritual Meaning of Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah
This is a kids' companion guide to the widely acclaimed guide for parents by the same author, Putting G-d on the Guest List: How to Reclaim the Spiritual Meaning of Your Child's Bar or Bat Mitzvah. And surely this work does guide students through the details both secular (gifts, parties, dealing with parents) and ritualistic (prayers, speeches, decorum) of preparing and conducting the Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah, the Jewish coming of age ceremony. But, it is much more than that. It also is a workbook for a young adolescent who is trying to figure out his/her evolving role in Jewish history and Jewish life. And for the older reader, this work can serve as an informative and highly readable reminder about what being Jewish is really all about.

from Children's Literature
Bar Mitzvah
Bar Mitzvah: A Jewish Boy's Coming of Age

By Eric A. Kimmel
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, 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

Description from School Library Journal

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.

Description from Publisher's Weekly

Bat Mitzvah:
A Jewish Girl's Coming of Age

By Barbara Diamond Goldin
The first North American bat mitzvah, the celebration of a Jewish girl's coming-of-age at 12 or 13, was held in 1922. Although the ceremony is a relatively recent development, the strong, responsive, and responsible role of Jewish women is as old as history. Goldin cameos courageous females from biblical to modern times who wielded behind-the-scenes power to affect the fate of the Jewish people. She describes how women's roles in many congregations are still evolving as are the ways in which a young woman fulfills her responsibilities as a bat mitzvah. The variety of ways some girls have chosen to celebrate their bat mitzvah are sampled as are several young women's reflections on the highlights of their preparation and ceremony. Explaining the ancient Jewish rituals and describing traditional synagogue furnishings, Goldin also briefs readers on the etiquette of attending the service. This relevant, informative, and highly readable companion to Kimmel's Bar Mitzvah: A Jewish Boy's Coming of Age will enrich school and public library collections.

Description from Booklist

The book to read on the subject. Many of today's Jewish girls are unaware that their right to have a bat-mitzvah ceremony is of comparatively recent origin. In Part I, Goldin relates this bit of lore as well as stories of women in Jewish history from the biblical period to the 1700s. Part II consists of explanations of the preparation, the ceremony, the celebrations (some quite unique), and the aftermath. This is also a book of religious introspection, philosophy, psychology, and sociology regarding the meaning and accomplishment of bat mitzvah. Attractive black-and-white scratchboard drawings depicting various appropriate scenes adorn the text. With today's multiple expressions of being Jewish, intermingled families, divorces, and wide social circles, the book should have broad appeal, as it touches on each situation. Anecdotes from 25 girls and their families make this title, along with Eric Kimmel's Bar Mitzvah (Viking, 1995), an insightful addition to all collections.

Description from School Library Journal

(No graphic available)

In the Thirteenth Year
By Sandra C. Satten
Twelve-year-old Isaac Segal knew that his life would be different after his bar mitzvah, when, according to Jewish tradition, he would become a man. But what he didn't count on were the changes happening to him now-one month before his bar mitzvah!

Isaac first notices his unusual abilities at his best friend Todd's bar mitzvah, when he discovers that he can read the mind of the good-looking girl sitting all the way across the synagogue. Isaac's discovery over the following days that he can also levitate objects and communicate telepathically with other people leads him to confide in his parents.

Isaac's parents finally reveal to him the family's long-guarded secret, unraveling a fantastic family history that involves the twelve tribes, space travel and a far away planet called AROPSAID. Isaac's life will never be the same, and he emerges from his bar mitzvah with a new and unique understanding of himself and his role in the greater Jewish community.

Description from Publisher

Science fiction and bar mitzvahs are an odd juxtaposition any way you slice it. Yet this book combines those two, albeit in a bizarre way that will only appeal to a select group of Jewish sci/fi fans. Isaac Segal is approaching his bar mitzvah when he starts receiving mysterious messages in his sleep. He discovers that he can read minds and will objects to move. His parents explain that HAON (read the words in all capitals backwards to understand better) took a group of Jews to the planet AROPSAID so they could live free as Jews. They returned to Earth when a terrible disease (SACHS-TAY) broke out on their planet. Isaac learns to use his powers and discovers who else is from AROPSAID as he prepares for his bar mitzvah.

Description from School Library Journal

Jason's Miracle: A Hanukkah Story
At 12, studying for his bar mitzvah, Jason Cohen doesn't consider himself a kid anymore. So why does he feel so mixed up about Hanukkah and not celebrating Christmas? What relevance can it possibly have to a modern kid's life? Late that night, he finds a young intruder, Aaron ben Moshe, who has been sent from Judea to find a member of the Cohen tribe. Judah, the Judean leader, needs help, and only a Cohen will do. Jason gets caught up in Aaron's excitement, and quickly packs some peanut butter, bananas, bread, a flashlight, and his new binoculars. He follows Aaron and is soon transported back to Judea. There are sentries—is Jason a spy? They aren't sure—after all, the name Jason is Greek. That's just his cover name, he tells them; he has a good Hebrew name, Joseph ben David HaKohen. Is using a different name a part of what his dad meant about people accommodating a conqueror's demands? Benderly's descriptions of Judah Maccabee as a dynamic leader are very strong. An awful lot of history has to be explained very fast, and she manages that quite well, too. Jason's modern "smarts," and the things he takes for granted (like multiplication and that flashlight), make the story move quickly.

Description from Kirkus Reviews
Emma Ansky-Levine and Her Mitzvah Machine
Emma Ansky-Levine and Her Mitzvah Machine
A rather unique approach to the theme of a girl discovering and becoming fascinated with her religious heritage. Emma's 12th birthday gift from an uncle living in Jerusalem is a computerlike machine that is shaped like the tablet of the ten commandments and bears the name "Mitzvah Machine." To Emma's completely nonobservant Jewish family, it's a nonsense gift. As the girl goes about her usual routines of school, friends, and family life, however, the messages on the machine's screen challenge, guide, and teach her. Emma and her friends are very real youngsters, and the characters and story line will hold readers' interest. Emma befriends a homeless man for whom she collects food from her neighbors and is jealous when her best friend, Danny, seems to be too interested in another classmate. The climax of the story comes when Emma, because of the Mitzvah Machine's influence, becomes bat mitzvah, with Uncle Izzy traveling to America for the occasion. Entertaining and a little different.

from School Library Journal

The Narrowest Bar Mitzvah
Alex tells the story of his bar mitzvah, which almost did not take place because a water main break on the night before has made the synagogue unusable and ruined the food for the 100 invited guests. His parents, grandparents, and older sister make some fast decisions, and the bar mitzvah service and reception are held in Grandpa's six-foot-wide house. The resourceful family manages, with the help of friends, to ready the house and replace the reception refreshments. Grandpa's house is shown in full detail, with pen-and-ink drawings, including a cut-away view of the house. A glossary explains the Hebrew words used in the text. This is a family story in which the grandparents have a starring role and a very special relationship with their grandchildren.

Description from School Library Journal
A Belfer Bar Mitzvah
A Belfer Bar Mitzvah
Bar Mitzvah (son of the commandment) and Bat Mitzvah (daughter of the commandment) mark the age when adult reason and responsibility begin. In this third book about her, Toby Belfer, a Jewish girl growing up in rural Louisiana, learns about the Bar Mitzvah ceremony through her older cousin Paul. Beginning with Toby's invitation to Paul's Bar Mitzvah and ending with the cutting of the challah and the traditional dance called the horah, the reader is led through the experience of this ancient ceremony. Now Toby is better prepared to begin her own studies for the Bat Mitzvah, changing perhaps only one thing pink instead of green balloons!

In this charming tale, as in the other Belfer stories, author Gloria Teles Pushker gives the appropriate Jewish terms and follows them with definitions so that Jews and non-Jews alike can gain a greater understanding of the traditions and rituals that make up the Jewish faith.
A Spiritual Journey
A Spiritual Journey : The Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah Handbook
Bar Mitzvah Lessons
Bar Mitzvah Lessons
David's fear over his approaching bar mitzvah causes him to alienate five rabbis who try to help him, but something surprising happens when he is placed in the hands of the eccentric former teacher Reuven Weiss.

With All My Heart, With All My Mind :
Thirteen Stories About Growing Up Jewish
Benjy has nightmares about his upcoming Bar Mitzvah ceremony. Rachel's grief over Grandma Hannah's illness turns her away from her temple. Jaci wrestles with peer pressure by day and angels by night, and when Cain and Abel double-date... well, growing up has never been easy.

As these and nine other stories in With All My Heart, With All My Mind demonstrate, growing up Jewish adds its own twists and turns to the challenge. As we approach the end of the millennium, what does "growing up Jewish" mean? How can young people reconcile centuries of tradition with the modern world? Can they embrace their religion "with all my heart, with all my mind"?

Award-winning author and editor Sandy Asher posed these and other questions to thirteen Jewish writers: herself, Eve B. Feldman, Merrill Joan Gerber, Jacqueline Dembar Greene, Johanna Hurwitz, Eric A. Kimmel, Sonia Levitin, Carol Matas, Gloria D. Miklowitz, Susan Beth Pfeffer, Ruth Minsky Sender, Phyllis Shalant, and Jane Breskin Zalben. From the last days of Masada to the future colonization of the moon, these stories provide unique and personal insights. in the interviews following each story, the authors discuss their own experiences growing up Jewish. These are stories that will make you laugh, cry, think, and above all, help you to explore what it means to be a Jew.

A portion of the money generated from the sale of this book will be donated to MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

Description from Publisher

From this fine group, readers would expect skillful, rewarding work--and they get it.

Description from Horn Book

Shira's Summer
When the Gordons move to the suburbs, they find a whole neighborhood full of new faces and new experiences. Shira, who is almost bas mitzvah, has a hard time leaving her old friends behind, but soon realizes that living in the suburbs is a lot of fun, and making friends--especially who are different from the ones she has ever known--can be exciting and challenging. A delightful book for every teen.

Description from Publisher
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Autograph Book
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Autograph Book
A bar/bat mitzvah illustrated keepsake book that provides spaces to record basic information about the special day.

Gabriel's Ark
Gabe is born disabled, and his loving Jewish family teaches and supports him. They miss him when he attends a special school during the week, but everyone looks forward to Shabbat, when they welcome him home for the weekend. Then Gabe turns 13; how will he celebrate his Bar Mitzvah? Like many stories about the disabled, this moving chapter book is told through the eyes of a sibling. Gabe's younger sister, Leah, loves her brother, even though she does get impatient with him sometimes, and she worries that he will mess up in public in the synagogue. His difficulties are never minimized, but with the help of his family and an extraordinary rabbi, Gabe says the Bar Mitzvah prayer his way, all by himself, and he is welcomed into the community. With humanity and hope, the story dramatizes the rabbi's message of acceptance, that "each of us is special in our own way, because we are all created in G-d's image."

Description from Booklist

Curse of the Sorcerer's Bones
The modern day practice of making a Bar Mitzvah at The Western Wall in Jerusalem takes on new meaning when a mystical kabbalist arrives.

Description from Publisher
Back of Beyond
Back of Beyond : A Bar Mitzvah Journey
Sometimes you learn to appreciate what you have only when you are about to lose it. When 12 year old Danny sees a contest to win a trip to Australia, he works hard to develop the winning entry. Unfortunately, the vacation comes just before his Bar Mitzvah and at a time when his parents cannot go along. Accompanied by a chaperon and his older sister Rebeccah, he sets off on his dream trip. While there, he meets Muri, an Aborigine, and his life is never the same again.


By Jacob Neusner
An introduction to Jewish theology, emphasizing the concept of mitzvah, or commandment, and the meaning of the ceremony of bar or bat mitzvah.

A bar and bat mitzvah course from one of the most illustrious scholars of our time.

Description from Publisher

Books for Parents of Bar/Bat Mitzvahs

G-d on the Guest List
Putting G-d on the Guest List :
How to Claim the Spiritual Meaning of Your Child's Bar/Bat Mitzvah

(for parents)
Expanded, updated, revised 2nd edition. Helps people find core spiritual values in American Jewry's most misunderstood ceremony -- Bar and Bat Mitzvah. Joins explanation, instruction and inspiration, to help parent and child truly be there when the moment of Sinai is recreated in their lives. How did Bar and Bat Mitzvah originate? What is its lasting significance? What are the ethics of celebration? How to make the event more spiritually meaningful!

Description from publisher

This book is destined to enjoy great popularity, for it addresses an important Jewish life cycle occasion in an exciting, contemporary style. The catchy title reflects the tone of the book. In illuminating the meaning of the bar mitzvah ritual, Salkin covers all bases: history, sociology, and religion. Recognizing that the bar mitzvah is an emotional event, particularly in families that are not observant, he explains its significance as a link in the unbroken chain of Jewish tradition as well as a rite of passage. The chapter on the highlights of the Sabbath prayers is useful. Throughout, Salkin offers instant answers to the perplexing questions of faith and belief. In our age of instant gratification, this approach has great merit and appeal.

Description from Library Journal
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Basics
Bar/Bat Mitzvah Basics:
A Practical Family Guide to Coming of Age Together
This practical guide gives families the how-to information they need-not only how to navigate the bar/bat mitzvah process, but how to grow as a family through this coming-of-age experience.For the first time in one book, all who are directly involved in bar and bat mitzvah offer their practical insights into how the process can be made easier and more enjoyable for everyone. Rabbis, cantors, and Jewish educators from the Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist movements, parents, and even teens speak from their own experiences.Topics include: What it's all about from start to finish, tutoring, stress, expectations, negotiating the ceremony and the celebration (including issues related to divorced and interfaith families), how to design a creative service, and advice on planning a reception that neither breaks the bank nor detracts from the inherent spirituality of the event.
Whose Bar/Bat Mitzvah Is This, Anyway?
Whose Bar/Bat Mitzvah Is This, Anyway? :
A Guide for Parents Through a Family Rite of Passage
Although a child's bat/bar mitzvah is one of the great moments in the life of a family, the months leading up to it can be surprisingly difficult, with stress appearing from every direction. In this guide, a family therapist helps parents survive this difficult time--and learn how to make the event a time for the family to thrive.

Description from publisher

Davis, a family therapist at the University of Massachusetts, looks not just at the child but at the entire family; not just at the bar mitzvah (for boys at age 13) or bat mitzvah (for girls at 12) ceremony but at the year surrounding it; and not just at the religious meaning of the event but at its psychological and social potential for the evolution of the family. Davis divides her book into five parts, discussing the issues (stress, myths, ritual), the players (children and parents), the spirit (sacred and secular), the details (guest list, ceremony, and party), and the big picture (life-cycle rituals). Davis' thoughtful examination of this meaningful rite of passage will help parents get through this joyous but stressful time.

Description from Horn Book
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planbook
The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planbook
An unprecedented step-by-step approach to the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planning experience, this manual treats the ceremonies as Jewish religious occasions, wedding the ethical insights of religions to a meaningful and tasteful event.

A user-friendly, step-by-step guide for all parents. Helps families of the 90's prepare their child, understand the synagogue/temple service, plan a creative party...everything from havdalah to handicap access, from computer tutors to challah covers. It includes alternatives for the ceremony and celebration as well as useful charts, timetables, and a glossary. As one mother recently said, "just reading the first chapter answered so many questions and calmed me down tremendously."

Description from publisher
The Complete Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planner
The Complete Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planner :
An Indispensable, Money-Saving Workbook for Organizing Every Aspect of the Event-From Temple Service to Reception
Now, thanks to this indispensable, all-inclusive guide, you can: (1) Obtain complete information on how to plan the perfect Bar or Bat Mitzvah (2) Be guided every step of the way, from the temple service to the reception to the seating arrangements. (3) Feel well organized and assured that no detail is overlooked, by using the handy countdown and checklists. (4) Receive tips, suggestions, and advice based on numerous personal experiences gifts, and thank-you notes. (5) Discover helpful hints for choosing your photographer, videographer, musicians, florist, decorator, entertainment, favors, invitations, and clothing. (6) Compare prices easily as you visit caterers, musicians, photographers, videographers, florists, printers, etc. (7) Give this as a perfect gift to special friends or relatives to help them with their eventful day. (8) Relax and enjoy your day with everything going exactly the way you planned.

Description from Publisher
Bravo! Bar/Bat Mitzvah Organizer
The Bravo! Bar/Bat Mitzvah Organizer
The Bravo! Bar/Bat Mitzvah Organizer is a planning workbook for coordinating all the festivities surrounding this significant event. Using a loose-leaf format, this Organizer is an invaluable tool to plan, document, track and organize details.

Description from publisher
How to Survive Your Son's Bar Mitzvah
How to Survive and Profit from Your Son's Bar Mitzvah :
Or Other Significant Event Where You Are Expected to Pay the Bill
Shapiro does a marvelous send-up of every aspect of the American penchant for overdoing Bar Mitzvahs (as well as every other coming-of-age) celebration. He harpoons (and lampoons) the "My event can be better than your event" materialism and mentality which all too often masks the true meaning of the event. The cartoons match the over-the-top, rapid-fire humor of what seems the perfect monologue for a borscht belt comedian. This one moves even more quickly than the 100 pages leads you to believe. You'll be done with it in less than a couple of hours - that is, if you don't stop to chuckle or laugh out loud like I did throughout this book. A perfect gift for the parents about to "celebrate" or "suffer through it."

From Amazon customer review

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