________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 11 . . . . November 16, 2012


Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. (Celebrations in My World).

Robert Walker.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2012.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (RLB).
ISBN 978-0-7787-4091-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-4086-5 (RLB).

Subject Heading:
Bar mitzvah-Juvenile literature.
Bat mitzvah-Juvenile literature.
Jewish way of life-Juvenile literature.

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Reesa Cohen.




A Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah are coming of age ceremonies for young boys and girls of the Jewish Religion. It marks the age when a child is considered to have become a young adult.

This means the youths are now officially a part of the Jewish community.

Bar and Bat Mitzvahs is part of a larger series entitled “Celebrations in My World”, published by Crabtree, a publishing company well-known for turning out a series of colourfully illustrated non-fiction books and educational resources which explore a wide variety of topics. Because these series follow specific patterns in covering a subject, they tend to be formulaic, but still informative. Readers will learn about this coming of age ritual, what the event means to the boy or girl, how they are prepared, when it is commonly celebrated as well as the traditional family celebrations that accompany this religious event.

      It is traditional in the Jewish religion to "instruct future generations of Jewish children in the laws and beliefs of their faith." This special event has been celebrated since the 14th century, and only in modern times have girls taken their turn in the community recognizing this social occasion. A boy attains his religious maturity and is able to fulfill all Torah commandments at the age of 13, while a girl is usually recognized at 12.

      In addition to covering the history of a Bar and Bat Mitzvah, the preparations involved, the role of the family, and even the 'party' that commonly accompanies this celebration are covered. The book truthfully points out that many families celebrate this life cycle event in an extravagant way. Other aspects of the Jewish religion are explored, such as the Sabbath, the significance of Judaism, the role of the Hebrew language, the importance of the Torah and the synagogue as a place of worship.

      This series is complemented with full colour photography that provides great visual appeal and several illustrations, The language used is suitable to the target audience. Many pages include a "Did You Know?" section explaining several additional facts regarding this topic. A table of contents, a glossary and an index are provided.

      This volume in the series is helpful for those not familiar with the ritual and importance of the celebration of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah and will increase the understanding of all aspects of occasion. It would make a useful addition to any school or public library.


Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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