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Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah

The Ultimate Insider's Guide

Cantor Matt Axelrod

In Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Cantor Matt Axelrod provides a practical, humorous guide for Jewish students and their families as they prepare for their “big day.” Breezy and friendly yet reassuring and focused, Axelrod easily cuts through the fear and stress that teens often feel in the months leading up to their bar or bat mitzvah. In addition to helping the student prepare for the bar or bat mitzvah by walking the reader through the service and providing helpful study tips for learning a Torah and haftarah portion, Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah also helps both students and their families cope with the stressors associated with the planning of the celebration, addressing everything from teens’ fears about making mistakes to time management skills to dealing with family over/underinvolvement. Cantor Axelrod’s experience helping hundreds of teens prepare for their bnei mitzvah will help students and families not just survive but understand and enjoy this important Jewish milestone. « less more »
Jason Aronson, Inc.
Pages: 208Size: 6 x 9
978-0-7657-0887-8 • Paperback • August 2012 • $16.95 • (£10.95)
978-0-7657-0888-5 • eBook • August 2012 • $15.95 • (£10.95)
Cantor Matt Axelrod (Congregation Beth Israel, Scotch Plains, NJ) has more than 20 years of experience preparing Jewish students for their bnei mitzvah. He is a graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and a past member of the Executive Council of the Cantors Assembly.
Chapter 1: Why Am I Having a Bar Mitzvah?
Chapter 2: Wait! I Have to Practice?
Chapter 3: The Trouble with Trope
Chapter 4: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about the Jewish Calendar (and probably a lot more than that!)
Chapter 5: Can We Get Some Service Here Please?
Chapter 6: What if I Make a Mistake?!
Chapter 7: You Need to Attend Services More!
Chapter 8: Revenge of the Bar Mitzvah Kid
Chapter 9: Help! My _______________________* is Driving me Crazy!
Chapter 10: Take Charge!
Chapter 11: But We’re Not Religious (and other things that keep you away from temple)
Chapter 12: Make a Connection to Just One Thing
Chapter 13: Now What?
Appendix I: The Ultimate Insider’s Quick Hints and Tricks
About the Author
Axelrod, a longtime cantor from New Jersey, offers young adults and their parents helpful information about preparing for a bar/bat mitzvah ceremony. Beginning with a clarification (bar/bat mitzvah means “of age,” not “a ceremony”), he goes on to discuss practice (“yes, you have to”), trope (“the secret code for singing any haftarah or Torah portion”), parts of the service, making mistakes, and dealing with over-involved parents. Although he opts for a humorous tone (comparing the bar/bat mitzvah service to a lavish Broadway musical with a child star), Axelrod’s message is both down-to-earth and serious: treat your service as an opportunity to be prepared and do your best, and take the initiative to become an active, rather than passive, participant in the ceremony. Chapters are divided into manageable sections with catchy subtitles (“Services Are Boring”), while frequent sidebars (“Insider’s Tips” and “Just for Parents”) and cartoon illustrations will keep even reluctant readers engaged. This is a must-have for Conservative and Reform congregational libraries as well as public libraries serving these populations.

In this humorous and informative primer on becoming bar or bat mitzvahed, Axelrod helps kids and their parents navigate this meaningful but often stressful time with useful tips and back-to-basics knowledge. Axelrod, a cantor with over twenty years’ experience training soon-to be thirteen-year-olds for their induction into the world of Jewish maturity and responsibility, takes readers on a step-by-step tour of what the celebration means, what tasks need to be accomplished for that special day, and how to make it through the process without succumbing to the myriad pressures.
Publishers Weekly

Axelrod (Congregation Beth Israel, Scotch Plains, NJ) uses his 20 years of experience as a cantor to present the typical questions of the 13-year-old girl or boy and their families as they prepare for the ceremony that signifies the passage of a young person into the adult Jewish community. Axelrod writes with humor and ease but never condescends to his young target audience. VERDICT Axelrod’s little book should be valuable for most Jewish families, as well as rabbis and cantors wondering how to help their young bar/bat mitzvah candidates.
Library Journal

At last, Cantor Axelrod gives us a much needed guide to the modern-day perplexed who find the beauty of the bar mitzvah diminished by fear, stress, and unwarranted worries. With insight, wisdom and humor this book will help everyone find just the right mixture of joy and spirituality for the day that marks the turning point in a Jewish child's journey to religious maturity.
Rabbi Benjamin Blech, Yeshiva University, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Judaism

Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah: The Ultimate Insider’sGuide is an important resource for any young person preparing for a bar or bat mitzvah, written in a personal and amusing style that students will find entertaining and fun. Synagogues should give copies of this book to students when families select a bar or bat mitzvah date. If you want to better understand the service, get hints about how to learn your Torah or Haftarah portion, and discover ways of making the entire experience meaningful, then this is the book for you.
Hazzan Sheldon Levin, past president of the Cantors Assembly, editor of the New Maftir and Haftarah books

Cantor Axelrod has a wonderful ear for today's Jewish teenagers—their lives, their worries and their questions about where they fit into Jewish life. With direct talk, a sense of humor and a few nips at the heels of sacred (kosher) cows, this book presents the path to Bar/Bat Mitzvah as an exciting, manageable challenge. Every child and parent should read this before starting to prepare for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration!
Rabbi Donald A. Weber, Temple Rodeph Torah

Engaging from the first sentence and jam-packed with relevant information, Cantor Axelrod's book is a wonderful roadmap for both parents and kids. Axelrod is that rare grown-up who has joyously retained the spirit of a big kid, albeit one with 'insider' information. He addresses everything from the structure of the service to the adolescent terror of embarrassment and public attention. The result is a book that makes you wonder 'What did parents and kids do without a book like this?!'.
Elizabeth Arnold, Clinical psychologist specializing in adolescents

Cantor Axelrod has written an easily accessible guide for both parents and kids that will help anyone to have a successful Bar or Bat Mitzvah experience with the least stress possible.
Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben Ph.D, author of Becoming Jewish: The Challenges, Rewards, and Paths to Conversion

In an age when the ‘Bar’ seems to have eclipsed ‘Mitzvah’ it’s more important than ever for parents to instill a strong sense of faith and identity. Grab this book! You’ll be doing your kid(s) a favor.
Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, author of Up, Up and Oy Vey: How Jewish History, Culture, and Values Shaped the Comic Book Hero

Cantor Matt Axelrod’s new guide is written primarily for kids, but how I wish it was around when I was planning my daughter’s bat mitzvah. The cantor’s simple explanations and attention to even the most obvious details of the b’nai mitzvah process sure would have come in handy. “Surviving Your Bar/Bat Mitzvah” may even appeal to those hard-to-please, eye-rolling young teens who are actually experiencing the rite of passage. And unlike so many books about bar and bat mitzvahs that spend so much time on the party, this book manages to be fun while only focusing on the religious aspects of the ritual. Your child might not admit it, but if you left it on his bed, he just might check it out. If not, you can read it yourself.
Baltimore Jewish Lifestyles Insider

By giving both parents and children a detailed roadmap, this book gives families guidelines that will make their simcha easier and more meaningful.
Jewish Book World

Axelrod has provided a new, engaging guide for the 21st century. It does not deal with the specifics of the training process, but provides a welcome, conversational handbook that everyone can use. It should be welcome in synagogue and school libraries, and might even be useful for tutors and clergy.
Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews

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