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Bar Mitzvah Boy

Bar Mitzvah Boy

By Mark Leiren-Young
Subjects: Award Winners, Community Theatre Picks, Comedy, Comedy, Western Playwrights, British Columbia, Jewish Theatre
Duration: 85 minutes
Imprint: Playwrights Canada Press
Paperback : 9780369100689, 96 pages, April 2020
Expected to ship: 2020-04-28


  • Winner, Jewish Playwriting Prize from the Jewish Plays Project 2017


Joey Brant needs to have a bar mitzvah immediately. Like, next Tuesday. Except he’s not thirteen, the usual age for the Jewish milestone. He’s in his sixties. Joey has a grandson who is about to step up to the Torah, and a little white lie he once told his family is about to become painfully obvious. A task he thinks he could quickly cross off his to-do list becomes a deep immersion into the faith he no longer follows when he meets Rabbi Michael Levitz-Sharon.  

Michael’s personal life is hanging together by a thread. Her preteen daughter is being treated for cancer, which has put a strain on her marriage and her beliefs. Between her duties as rabbi, mother, and wife, she doesn’t have much time or energy to spare. So, when she finds Joey in her office on Shabbat asking for immediate help, she refuses.  

Eventually Joey wins Michael over; his challenge is something she can actually fix, plus he’s generous with donations. They embark on a crash bar mitzvah course, leading the two into a series of reflections on their own faith and family. Through the genuine connection established between Joey and Michael, this sentimental dramedy will charm anyone who has ever questioned why bad things happen to good people.


“Truly a subtle and intelligent (actually exquisite) presentation of how two individuals deal with timeless and complex issues that we all deal with in some way or another — What part does faith and ritual play in me being a Jew? What roles will community and synagogue life play over the course of my life? Oy vey!”

- Rabbi Allan Finkel, for Winnipeg Jewish Theatre

“Warm, wise, and wonderful. ”

- Mary Fernandez-Sierra, In the Spotlight

“Leiren-Young is a Shaw with a peculiarly Jewish piquancy, tantalisingly sweet-and-sour, like my Bubbeh’s celebrated Brisket. Such complex cookery takes deft hands to bring to table. ”

- Lincoln Kaye, Vancouver Observer

“This is a well-thought-out play… [Leiren-Young] knows how to grab an audience’s attention immediately and just the right moment to surprise you with a sudden plot twist… Bar Mitzvah Boy is terrific from start to finish. ”

- Bernie Bellan, The Jewish Post & News

“A gentle, bittersweet comedy. ”

- Darren Barefoot, The Georgia Straight