Bar Mitzvah: A Jewish Boy's Coming of Age

by Eric A. Kimmel

Hardcover, 1995




Viking Books for Young Readers (1995), 160 pages


A comprehensive look at the coming-of-age Jewish ceremony.

User reviews

LibraryThing member raizel
Bar Mitzvah : A Jewish Boy’s Coming of Age by Eric A. Kimmel is a worthwhile book for learning more about the ceremony and Judaism in general. I think it belongs in a synagogue library, especially one used primarily by a religious school.

The book provides a good basic description of Judaism for
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non-Jewish or less observant guests at a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. It is also great for the Bar Mitzvah boy himself. I especially like the two or three page recollections of the event by a variety of men, including Mr. Kimmel and his father (?).

I learned some things: “As if to emphasize the idea of thirteen as a special age, medieval legend tells us that many important biblical figures began fulfilling their destinies when they reached the age of thirteen. Abraham rejected idol worship when he was thirteen years old. At thirteen, Jacob received the blessing of the firstborn from his father, Isaac. Jacob’s son, Joseph, was sold into slavery in Egypt when he was thirteen. Thirteen-year-old David slew the Philistine giant, Goliath. Solomon, David’s son, became king of Israel when he was thirteen years old.” [p. 11] Not only do these commentaries put a new spin on the behavior of these men, but Dr. Kimmel finds a different way to describe being thirteen for each of them. Jacob seems less culpable if he has only recently become responsible for his actions and is used to trusting what his parents, especially his mother, tell him.

Another thing I hadn’t considered: “The practice of reading from the Torah goes back to at least the fourth century B.C.E., when the priest Ezra led the exiles back to Israel from Babylon. Reading a religious book aloud was a revolutionary idea for its time. The priests of other religions jealously guarded their sacred texts. Only priests or those studying to be priests could read them.” [p. 66] The Jewish approach to reading the Bible is in the middle of the extremes of limiting access to texts and believing everyone can understand the text just by sitting down and reading it.
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Sydney Taylor Book Award (Mass Import -- Pending Differentiation)


Original language



0670855405 / 9780670855407
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