Magical Mitzvah in the Cards
Simcha SpotlightNewberg Started Performing at 4 Years Old

Magical Mitzvah in the Cards

13-year old magician Alex Newberg has received kudos from the likes of Penn Jillette and Steve Cohen on his skills.

Kevin C. Madigan

Kevin Madigan is a senior reporter for the Atlanta Jewish Times.

Sleight of hand is a specialty for bar mitzvah Alex Newberg.
Sleight of hand is a specialty for bar mitzvah Alex Newberg.

Alex Newberg was only 4 years old when he began taking an interest in doing magic tricks.

“My grandpa bought me a magic set as a birthday gift, and since then it’s been a passion of mine. It’s grown to be more of an obsession over the years,” Alex said in a phone interview.

Now 13, he has received kudos from the likes of Penn Jillette, who described Alex in his podcast as being “really good,” and from New York magician Steve Cohen, who posted that Alex “has a mature understanding of magic for such a young fellow.” Cohen praised his “surprisingly vast mastery of sleight of hand” and said “the future of magic is in excellent hands.”

Alex’s mother, Jennifer Gelder, told the AJT that sleight of hand is his favorite trick, but “that was also the most challenging to learn because his hands are small. He had to work hard to master that skill.”

She said Cohen, Penn & Teller, and Las Vegas magician Mac King all sent congratulatory messages to Alex, which she incorporated into a video montage for his magic-themed bar mitzvah celebration in February.

During his speech at the event, Alex thanked his grandfather Roger Gelder for his guidance and inspiration.

“My dad, his grandpa, has been highly instrumental in Alex’s magic career,” his mother said. “He was the one who took him to meet Penn & Teller when he was 9. At that point, we didn’t realize how talented Alex was with magic. After that, my dad has really helped Alex by taking him to many magic conventions and several other trips to see and meet other famous magicians.”

In his speech, Alex spoke of his influences. “If you ever closely watch a magic performance by a classic like Penn & Teller, my personal favorites, you can truly see the elegance, hard work and practice put into it. In my opinion, that is art.”

Alex has been putting his unusual skills to good use, his mother said. “He has been involved with Camp Sunshine since he was little, as his dad has volunteered there for many years. He has always donated to camp when he makes money with his magic, as well as performed for many of their functions.”

Lately, Alex has been up to his tricks at venues around town. “I perform at different restaurants, but mainly Ippolito’s in Roswell,” Alex said. “I do children’s parties as well. I prefer the older crowd; I feel I connect to them a whole lot better. They have a better attention span.”

“Alex also goes to Tannen’s Magic Camp during the summer at Bryn Mawr College,” his mother said. “Many famous magicians, such as David Copperfield, went there as kids. This was also my dad’s doing.”

A student at the Davis Academy, Alex will play the lead role in the school’s musical production of “Peter Pan” on March 26 and 27 after portraying Young Simba in last year’s “The Lion King.” “I’m into acting, singing. I enjoy basketball, soccer and tennis,” Alex said. “I’m pretty easygoing. I like a lot of things.”


Alex Kyle Newberg was called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, at Temple Sinai in Sandy Springs.
Alex has been a magician since the age of 4. For his mitzvah project, Alex hosted “Magic Night” at a restaurant, where he performed to raise money for Camp Sunshine and the Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Alex is the son of Jennifer Gelder and Tenise and Eric Newberg. He is the grandson of Corky and Roger Gelder of Atlanta and Francine and Neil Newberg of Winter Park, Fla.

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