cover image Bar Mitzvah / Bat Mitzvah: Planning the Perfect Day

Bar Mitzvah / Bat Mitzvah: Planning the Perfect Day

Amy Nebens. Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, $25 (136pp) ISBN 978-1-58479-415-8

The observance of the Jewish coming of age is an automatic rite for every 13-year-old Jewish boy and girl, and, for many, it's the cause for much fanfare. It can also be the cause of significant stress, which is where this well-laid-out book comes in. Nebens, a former Martha Stewart Living editor, advises parents to start thinking about a bar or bat mitzvah when a child turns 10, since there are classes to attend, a ceremony to prepare for, Torah portions to be learned and, of course, a celebration to plan. With advice from professionals as well as parents and children who've been there, done that, the book describes the different types of services and the symbolism that's part of each, and gives ideas on how to personalize a service (a Hebrew term glossary and Torah primer are helpful additions). A timeline tells readers when to sign up for religious school training and when to book a synagogue date; and ideas for invitations, party venues, themes, centerpieces, catering, entertainment, photography and favors abound. The book's design is streamlined and modern, and there are plenty of photos. Much of the advice seems targeted toward upscale events (in regards to selecting a cake, Nebens says, ""Forget the idea of a simple birthday cake. After all, the cake at an event like this is a showpiece""; and ideas for ""side entertainment"" include paintball and a ""video wall""). Still, the budget planner will help readers in any financial situation make use of this soup-to-nuts resource.