Cover image for The bar and bat mitzvah book : joyful ceremonies and celebrations for today's families
The bar and bat mitzvah book : joyful ceremonies and celebrations for today's families
Burghardt, Linda.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Citadel Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xiii, 258 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BM707 .B87 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The Bar and Bat Mitzvah Book mixes sound, practical advice with joyful Jewish wisdom to offer invaluable tips, guidance, and information on finding one's place in the Jewish community, helping a child prepare for the service, creating a personalized ceremony, and choosing a party's theme, invitations, and decorations.

Author Notes

Linda Burghardt is an award-winning journalist whose work appears regularly in The New York Times, and her articles and essays have been published in Jewish World, Jewish Week, the Forward, the Chicago Tribune, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, Newsday, the New York Daily News, the Berkshire Eagle, Redbook, and other major publications

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Preparation for her daughters' bat mitzvahs inspired Burghardt's helpful book, which steers well clear of cloying, party-planning enthusiasm. Recognizing that many families are not observant, Burghardt works in background on the coming-of-age ceremony and, throughout, encourages parents to help children gain a deeper understanding of Jewish life, history, and ideology as they prepare for the occasion. Expected party-planning topics are covered--selecting a date and a venue, choosing invitations, food, music--but there's also a chapter on celebrating the event in Israel and information on the ceremony as it unfolds within the structure of a reformed-conservative Jewish Shabbat morning service at home. Burghardt's background as a journalist comes through clearly in the writing; so does her commitment to making the celebration meaningful for everyone involved. Pair this with Jeffrey Salkin's Putting God on the Guest List (1992), which delves even more deeply into the spiritual meaning of an important ceremony that is both solemn and joyous. --Stephanie Zvirin Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Bar and bat mitzvahs mark milestones for Jewish children, but for their families, stressful celebration planning can outweigh the joy. Burghardt's commonsense guide to the preparation, service and party should ease the process. She wisely notes the potential "transformative power" of the bar/bat mitzvah as a doorway to self-esteem and a "lightning rod for Jewish identity" that "stirs up questions about basic goals as a Jewish family." Burghardt explains the historical roots of the ceremony and guides beginners through the Shabbat morning service. She also discusses choosing a synagogue, enhancing the service, setting timetables for study, doing mitzvah projects and planning Israel trips. She doesn't neglect the details either, even including instructions for making the bags of candy showered on the child during the service. A complete party-planning section covers everything from schedule and budget to deciding on a caterer, music and seating. Readers might overlook some minor errors, like the wrong plural suffix for prayer shawls, but in Burghardt's attempt to be inclusive, she makes generalizations that are harder to ignore: "Any Jewish adult may chant the blessings [before and after the Torah reading]," she declares, without considering non-egalitarian synagogues that might exclude women. In a discussion of how to involve non-Jewish family members, she states that non-Jewish parents "should be" allowed certain synagogue honors without acknowledging the struggle in many synagogues on that very issue. Still, if families follow Burghardt's advice on finding and creating meaning, they will probably come "face-to-face-or faith-to-faith-with [their] beliefs in an entirely new way." (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this useful and practical guide, journalist Burghardt (Jewish Holiday Traditions; The Happy Empty Nest) covers the whole bar and bat mitzvah planning process, from uncovering one's Jewish roots and heritage and setting a date and place to choosing invitations (and whom to invite), deciding on party themes, dealing with caterers, organizing seating arrangements, conducting the candle-lighting ceremony, and preserving the special day in photographs and video. She provides additional information on how to hold the ceremony in Israel and discusses special situations such as divorced parents and non-Jewish relatives. Libraries that already have another good planning guide-e.g., Helen Leneman's Bar/Bat Mitzvah Basics: A Practical Family Guide to Coming of Age Together, Patti Moskovitz's Complete Bar/Bat Mitzvah Book: Everything You Need To Plan a Meaningful Celebration, or Jane Lewit and Ellen Epstein's The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Planbook-may not need this unless they have special demand. But libraries that don't will find this a welcome addition. Recommended for public and synagogue libraries.-Marcia Welsh, Dartmouth Coll., Hanover, NH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Part 1 Getting Ready: Gathering the Warmth of Our Heritage
1 Finding Your Place in the Jewish Communityp. 3
2 The Roots of Traditionp. 15
3 Choosing the Date, Setting the Timep. 26
4 Timetables for Studyp. 37
5 Making the Experience Meaningfulp. 48
Part 2 Creating the Service: Ancient Wishes, Modern Dreams
6 The Shabbat Morning Service: A Beginner's Guidep. 63
7 How to Personalize the Servicep. 75
8 Why the Service Is So Moving--And How to Enhance It Even Morep. 88
9 Mitzvah Projects and Tzedakahp. 100
10 Bar and Bat Mitzvah in Israelp. 112
Part 3 Planning the Party: Celebrating with Spirit and Joy
11 Your Celebration, Your Wayp. 125
12 A Complete Party-Planning Schedulep. 137
13 Strategies to Stretch Your Budgetp. 149
14 Creating the Perfect Invitationp. 160
15 Party Themes and Jewish Valuesp. 172
16 From Cakes to Canapes: Getting the Best from Your Catererp. 183
17 All About Music and Entertainmentp. 194
18 Seating Arrangements and Decorating Schemesp. 206
19 The Grand Candle-Lighting Ceremonyp. 218
20 Photography and Video: Preserving the Day in Picturesp. 229
Afterword: Living Jewishly After the Bar and Bat Mitzvahp. 241
Selected Books for Further Readingp. 245
Glossaryp. 247
Indexp. 251
About the Authorp. 258