MY BAR MITZVAH by Richard Roaenblum


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All about Rosenblum's bar mitzvah, in 1941 Brooklyn--when Grandma made huckleberry wine from berries picked during the summer in the Catskills, ""my father made me a new suit with a vest and my first pair of long pants"" (in the clothing factory where he worked), the gang from the block sat in the second row and made faces, and everyone came: ""Everyone."" Aunts and uncles and cousins, friends from his father's factory and union, all the neighbors on the block. There is a snugness and plentitude here--""a fragrant ocean of chicken soup,"" ""the whole congregation marching [ing] back to our house""--and the sense of a self-contained, self-confident social culture. Being Jewish is so natural that no pieties are called for: ""My whole gang went to Hebrew school,"" relates narrator Richard. ""None of us liked to go to another class after regular school every day, so we got into as much trouble as possible. Our mothers were called in, but everybody's mother blamed the other boys."" Rosenblum's cartoon drawings catch the parental pride, the kids' hijinks, the swarm of gabbing, gorging, gesticulating celebrants. It's a family album, with wit and verve, that you don't have to be Jewish to enjoy.

Pub Date: March 10th, 1985
Publisher: Morrow