This Book is available for purchase on the
Author: Shayna Meiseles
Created by: Esther Frimerman
Eleven-year-old Debbie Solomon didn`t
know her Bat Mitzvah year would be such an adventure. Her best
friend develops a nose for trouble, her swimming rival is a winner in more
ways than one, and her parents just don`t understand -or do they?
Then Debbie uncovers a family secret that only she can resolve...and life
will never be the same.
Luckily, Debbie, whose honest reactions
to her predicaments ring true, has joined the Bat Mitzvah Club. There
she discovers that becoming a Bat Mitzvah is much more than a party - it`s
a way of life.
Mitzvah Club: Debbie`s Story is a novel by Shayna Meiseles about Debbie,
a young girl attending the Chicago Hebrew Academy who worriedly anticipates
her Bat Mitzvah (the Jewish ceremony for girls transitioning from childhood
to adulthood), and becomes mortified when her mother enrolls her in the
Bat Mitzvah Club, where she learns of an unsolved family mystery from her
grandmother. The Bat Mitzvah Club: Debbie`s Story is enthusiastically recommended
as being an adventurous, thoughtful and enjoyable story.
Midwest Book Review
Solomon, the heroine of The Bat Mitzvah Club: Debbie`s story...
is 11 years old, just months away from becoming bat mitzvah. And she is
not happy about it.
has just transferred her and her little sister, Miri, from a public school
to a Jewish day school. That isn`t so bad, because she catches up with
her class very quickly, is doing well in school (except for math!), and
has made some really good friends, especially Leah.
She is also
one of the best swimmers on the swim team and is hoping to compete in the
would be fine, except that her parents keep trying to talk about her bat
mitzvah. When she thinks about it, all that comes to mind is Leah`s brother
David`s bar mitzvah, which was a very lavish affair. Besides, she would
have to make a speech in front of a whole bunch of guests, and that is
Just to make
matters worse, her parents enroll her in the Bat Mitzvah Club, an after-school
program for girls her age. She is not pleased about this - not only will
she have to think about becoming bat mitzvah, but it will make her late
for swim practice.
When she gets
to the club, she is pleasantly surprised. Several of her classmates are
there, including Leah, and the teacher, Mrs. Levy, seems to be very nice
and makes the class interesting.
As time goes
by, the girls discuss what it means to be a bat mitzvah and what it means
to be Jewish, and especially a Jewish woman. Debbie had never thought about
describes the bat mitzvah as "the time when your G-dly soul becomes complete.
It`s like your soul has been waiting all this time to really show itself
and now it saturates you like water fills a sponge." It was something Debbie
had not recognized.
is given a journal to write their thoughts in, and Debbie finds that she
can sometimes express her feelings better in writing than she can to people.
to decide what kind of person she wants to be. She doesn`t have to go along
with the rather harebrained ideas Leah has, and she is entitled to have
other friends besides her and make her own decisions. She also realizes
that although her little sister can be a pest, she is still her sister.
As Mrs. Levy
explains, bat mitzvah is "the time to start training yourself to check
in with your mind before you go along with your heart."
When her family
realizes how grown up she is becoming, she is let in on a family secret.
Her beloved grandmother had an older sister, named Esther. When World War
II began, Esther left home and joined the resistance. She was never seen
again. The family had tried for many years to find Esther, but finally
For a school
project, Debbie decided to find Esther, a task that would take a lot of
time, a lot of work, and a lot of hoping and dreaming.
It meant a
lot to her grandmother and her parents that she was trying so hard to unite
When her bat
mitzvah came, there was no ice sculpture or big show, just an elegant luncheon,
with lots of flowers, close friends and family, and a wonderful surprise.
Canadian Jewish News