Sons of the 613

Michael Rubens
  • Review
By – February 26, 2013

Isaac is a boy approach­ing his bar mitz­vah cel­e­bra­tion when his par­ents leave him with his old­er broth­er, Josh, while they go on a two-week vaca­tion. Lit­tle do the par­ents know what is going on in their absence. Isaac’s bar mitz­vah tutor has not shown up and Isaac is any­thing but pre­pared for his haphtarah read­ing. In addi­tion, his broth­er, Josh, has decid­ed to teach Isaac what it real­ly means to be a man, and puts him through a sur­vival and self-defense train­ing pro­gram, while agree­ing to teach him his haphtarah por­tion. Josh’s train­ing pro­gram” involves tak­ing Isaac to a strip club, hav­ing him jump off a cliff into a riv­er, hav­ing him ride a motor­cy­cle, hav­ing a drug deal­er friend give him beer, and par­tic­i­pat­ing in a bar brawl, all in the name of teach­ing Isaac what it means to be a man. The book is well writ­ten, humor­ous and filled with a sense of explo­ration and dis­cov­ery but par­ents should be aware that there is explic­it lan­guage and there are sev­er­al sex- and drink-relat­ed scenes, some in the pres­ence of Isaac’s nine-year-old sis­ter. Toward the end of his quest, Isaac notes, I’ve got­ten too excit­ed, run too far away from the herd, rolled in the wrong grass and drunk the wrong water….the herd is reject­ing me.” He is learn­ing to make his own deci­sions and to find him­self while maturing.

While the pub­lish­er rec­om­mends this book for ages 12 and up, the explic­it lan­guage and risqué scenes may prompt some poten­tial pur­chasers to con­sid­er the read­ers’ matu­ri­ty and, per­haps up the age rec­om­men­da­tion based on those factors.

Dro­ra Arussy, Ed.D., is an edu­ca­tion­al con­sul­tant who spe­cial­izes in inte­grat­ing Jew­ish and sec­u­lar stud­ies, the arts into edu­ca­tion, and cre­ative teach­ing for excel­lence in Jew­ish edu­ca­tion. She is the moth­er to four school-age chil­dren and has taught from pre-school through adult. Dro­ra is an adjunct pro­fes­sor of Hebrew lan­guage at Drew University.

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