Never Mind the Bullocks

A twenty-first century exploration of the Torah for bar-/bat-mitzvah students

Published in February 2009, t
his publication is for anyone who has ever celebrated turning thirteen and wondered why they had to read all that Hebrew when they did…

'Never Mind the Bullocks' is a book that works on several levels. It centres on a group of twelve year-old children at a Jewish summer camp who are obliged to give up their free time to prepare for their bar- orbat-mitzvah ceremonies. Their teacher, who is also the author, is an English rabbi who offers them an alternative way of looking at the Torah, the first Five Books of Moses, encouraging the students - and all readers - to reconsider the possible authorship of this document and its authors' intentions. Each of the eleven lessons is preceded by a mysterious encounter in the form of an imaginary dialogue between the author and the prophet Isaiah, whose historical insights and prophetic wisdom help the reader to question and challenge the traditional view of the origins of Judaism's sacred text and to gain an insight into the historical, social and theological background from which the Torah emerged.

In the book, the children ask the questions that, perhaps, everyone has wanted to ask about traditional religious texts and their associated practices.The ‘bullocks’ of the title are a specific reference to the biblical practice of animal sacrifice, but are also a general metaphor for any religious text or practice that appears to mask the prophetic – and divine – demand for goodness and justice.The approach to these texts and practices is challenging, encouraging readers of any persuasion to look at the basis of their religious tradition and seek ways to apply it to the modern world.


'Never Mind the Bullocks' is a bar-/bat-mitzvah course, a provocative discourse on the origins of religion and religious texts and a light-hearted tale of a group of twelve year-olds learning about their heritage in an unconventional way that provides food for thought for all ages.

Ordering infomation

Copies of "Never Mind the Bullocks" can be ordered from me at at a cost of £7.99 + £1.50 p&p (£9.49 in total). Payment can either be by cheque, payable to Pete Tobias and sent to The Liberal Synague Elstree, High Street, Elstree WD6 3BY or via internet banking - email me for the account details.

Reviews for "Never Mind the Bullocks"

"An inspiring and dynamic educational prgramme from a truly inspired educator"
Rabbi Dr Charles Middleborough, Honorary Director of Studies, Leo Baeck College

"This book is courageous and imaginative. A true educator's approach to making the bible relevant and accessible which doesn't fudge the difficult questions. It may be addressed to teenagers but adults would certainly benefit froim the author's attractive and humorous approach which overlies a deep seriousness and challenging honesty."
Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield, Head of the Movement for Reform Judaism