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Bar Mitzvah Boy

Bar Mitzvah Boy

By Mark Leiren-Young
Subjects: Western Playwrights, British Columbia, Jewish Theatre, Community Theatre Picks, Comedy, Award Winners
Duration: 85 minutes
Imprint: Playwrights Canada Press
Paperback : 9780369100689, 96 pages, May 2020
Ebook (EPUB) : 9780369100702, 250 pages, April 2020
Ebook (PDF) : 9780369100696, 250 pages, April 2020


  • Winner, Jewish Playwriting Prize from the Jewish Plays Project 2017
  • Long-listed, Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour 2021


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. 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 and 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 the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre

“Warm, wise, and wonderful. ”

- Mary Fernandez-Sierra, In the Spotlight

“A gentle, bittersweet comedy. ”

- Darren Barefoot, The Georgia Straight

“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

“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