In recent years, bar and bat mitzvahs have looked different. Some have been virtual, others have been mask-mandated, but the focus remains the same – a coming of age ceremony that has been a tradition for generations.
Coming Of Age: 13 B’Nai Mitzvah Stories is a new book that can help boys and girls prepare for their special day. I got an advanced readers’ copy of this amazing book, edited by Jonathan Rosen and Henry Herz. It will be available in April.
It features short stories from 13 Jewish authors, all of them about a b’nai mitzvah. At first, I thought the book was going to be about the authors’ OWN b’nai mitzvahs, but, only one story was a personal narrative. Others were more fictional, one about having a pandemic bat mitzvah, and another about a bar mitzvah on a planet called Latke!
I think the title of the book is more powerful than it lets on. When you become a bar or bat mitzvah, you “come of age” and a full member of the Jewish community. This moment is meaningful and important because it means that you are a Jewish adult and you are responsible for your own actions.
It was so interesting reading this book because each author had their own unique style of telling a b’nai mitvah story. Some of them focused more on the fantastical element of their story, others were amazing at describing the thoughts, feelings, and setting around the event. It’s hard to pick a favorite story, but I really enjoyed This Is What I’ll Tell You by Debbie Reed Fischer. That story was about a girl who decides to hide her religion after being bullied because she is Jewish.
I loved how the authors were so creative when it came to what they were writing about. One author made up a legend about how each person has to go inside their Torah portion and experience it. For example, the boy in the story had to help Noah and his ark.
Another person whose writing is featured is Melissa Roske, who wrote Kat Greene Comes Clean , a book I reviewed a few years back! Nora Raleigh Baskin, author of Nine, Ten, which I also reviewed, also has a short story in Coming Of Age.
Coming Of Age is full of Jewish pride, b’nai mitzvah preparation, romance, and whimsical elements. It’s a book you need to read, even if you are not Jewish!
Four out of four roses!