TURNING THIRTEEN by Susan Beth Pfeffer


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Becky decides--for the wrong reason--to have a bat mitzvah: she wants to regain longtime best-friend Dina, who has been spending her time with Methodist Amy. Her ploy works, and a shared bat mitzvah is planned; she also gets interested in the classes with Rabbi Greenberg (a woman), and begins to ask searching questions. Perhaps as a result, she looks at the sky one morning and realizes that--as far as she is concerned--God is not there. Conscientiously, Becky tries to withdraw from the bat mitzvah, and there is discussion and genuine soul-searching with all concerned (both her mother and the Rabbi get headaches in response to the news). But Becky finally comes to believe that the celebration of becoming a Jewish woman is reason enough for the ceremony; she does not regain her faith, though it seems likely that she will in the future. Directly told in the familiar manner of a realistic girls' story, this deals perceptively with a common rite of passage complicated by a crisis of belief that is probably more frequently experienced than discussed; it also serves as a detailed report on a contemporary bat mitzvah in a Reformed Temple. Not profound, but approachable and on target.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1988
Page count: 133pp
Publisher: Scholastic