The Jewish Backpack
 ,     ,
A Bar Mitzvah Odyssey
through the Jewish World

Why is a Bar/Bat-Mitzvah Such a Big Deal? By Aliza Lavie

Bat Mitzvah ceremony video  of Susanna from milano
hom the Jewish Woman's Prayer Book translated for her.

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Bar/Bat Mitzva ceremony
of IDF and security forces orphans with Chief of General Staff, Gaby Ashkenazi and The Chief Rabbi, Rafi Peretz.


New by Aliza Lavie
Author of the best-selling A Jewish Womans Prayer Book


(To be published in Hebrew and in English)
Magid Books Koren Publishers

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(262 pages, 98 NIS)

Why did Kobi Oz celebrate his bar-mitzvah at the age of 40?
What angered Yossi Sarid at his bar-mitzvah?
Why werent candies thrown at the bar-mitzvah of Emmanuel Halperin?
What embarrassed Uri Orbach?
What did 13-year-old Yigal Alon receive from his father, and with what conditions?
What is emphasized at bar-mitzvahs held on kibbutzim?
Why did Yemenites not celebrate bar-mitzvahs?
In which community is a haircut part of the bar-mitzvah celebration?
In which community does the bar-mitzvah boy ask his parents forgiveness?

The bar/bat-mitzvah year is an odyssey for every child. It presents a unique opportunity to delve into family history, the special customs and prayers of the community of the familys origin, and the meaning of the stage traditionally regarded as the transition from childhood to adulthood.

Recent years have witnessed a real renaissance in the celebration of bar/bat-mitzvah ceremonies, spurred by the desire to infuse the occasion with new significance. Alongside the usual elements, a range of diverse and creative personal innovations now highlight special content within the family or community framework. The absence of fixed prayers for the occasion in the standard prayer-book, along with a sense of longing, have opened a new dimension of personal expression.

This book arose from Aliza Lavies own family research leading up to her sons bar-mitzvah: As our sons bar-mitzvah year approached, we wanted to know more. Why specifically at age 13? How was this celebrated in the past? What is the source of the custom of throwing candies at the bar-mitzvah boy? What is the point of being called up to the Torah? How, and why, does the bar-mitzvah boy deliver a speech? That was the beginning of the Jewish Backpack odyssey and exploration.

The Jewish Backpack is an odyssey through the Jewish world, covering every part of the globe and hundreds of years of history. It is an inspiring mosaic of customs, ceremonies, traditions, prayers, poems, philosophy, memories, personal stories, and literary creations. Its harmonies bring together voices from eastern Asia and from the US, from Europe and Africa, as well as from the modern State of Israel.

The vast menu offered here allows any family approaching a bar/bat-mitzvah to select and combine elements best suited to its taste.

Actor Moshe Ivgi was moved by the book: It seems like yesterday that my small hand was grasped in the much larger hand of my father as we walked along together. My fathers hand continues to hold mine in all my decisions, my deliberations, all the important events in my life. The Jewish Backpack takes me back to those sweet memories and wonderful places.

The book includes an introduction, Why a Bar-Mitzvah?, by Prof. Hananel Mack, a lecturer in Jewish Studies at Bar-Ilan University and the author of several books on Jewish culture.

About the Author

Dr. Aliza Lavie (born in September, 1964) is a scholar and writer who lectures in the School of Communication at Bar-Ilan University. She is also a social activist and media personality, and a prominent figure in Jewish cultural discourse in Israel. In her work Aliza turns to the rich resources of Jewish heritage and culture to find answers for questions of the here and now in Israel. She presents The Jewish Backpack as a gift to her son and his generation.

Alizas bestselling A Jewish Womans Prayer Book won a National Jewish Book Award and has been translated into several languages.

                                                                                                                                                               Contact Aliza Lavie