Picture books that include Jewish content fall into two categories- books that appeal to a general audience and books that are better suited for a Jewish audience. Rabbi Jamie Korngold’s books tend to be part of the latter group. Non Jewish Readers may not have sufficient background knowledge to fully connect to her stories. However, these engaging and meaningful picture books are a welcomed addition to any Jewish library.
For many years, Rabbi Jamie Korngold (The Adventure Rabbi) has organized and led a variety of innovative spiritual retreats that enable a cross section of Jews to foster an invigorating connection with their Jewish identity. During Passover, participants are able to experience a Seder in an outdoor setting in Moab, Utah. This unique and experiential event is creatively documented in Seder in the Desert. Jamie’s age appropriate text goes hand-in-hand with Jeff Finkelstein’s vibrant photographs Even though I have never attended any of these intriguing Seders, I was captivated by the images of young families connecting with different aspects of the Haggadah and Jewish traditions. While this liberal approach to Passover may not appeal to all Jews, the picture book offers accurate information and provides insight into the diversity of American Jewish rituals. Moreover, the visual message of working together as a community is uplifting and is supplemented by Jamie’s reminder-
We remember that the Jewish people had to work together before they could become a nation. Page 22
If you’re looking for a Passover picture book that will generate thought provoking questions, consider checking out Seder in the Desert.
Two Books from the Sadie and Ori Series
Few children’s authors are willing to walk down the path less traveled. Rabbi Jamie Korngold is an exception. She boldly jumps at the opportunity to introduce children to unfamiliar topics. One such subject is the minor Jewish festival, Lag Ba’Omer (The 33rd day of counting the Omer). This traditional counting takes place between Passover and Shavuot. While only a small percentage of modern Jews celebrate or recognize this day, Jamie is determined to awaken an interest in the holiday. She immediately engages her readers’ interest by highlighting the connection between the moon cycles and the start of Jewish holidays. Shortly thereafter the main characters, Sadie and Ori, try to uncover the meaning of Lag Ba’Omer. By gathering clues via observations and asking questions, the two children piece together some basic facts. Their grandfather fills in the remaining gaps to their understanding. This intergenerational element adds more depth to the story. Toward the end of the book, the family celebrates Lag Ba’Omer. Julie Fortenberry’s colorful illustrations provide helpful prompts for beginning readers and/or read aloud listeners. This book is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to introduce their children or class to Lag Ba’Omer.
Children like adults oftentimes struggle with the concept of stepping outside their comfort zone. Taking a “first step” into unknown territory can easily ignite waves of insecurity. In Sadie, Ori, and Nuggles Go To Camp, Rabbi Jamie Korngold helps first time campers overcome some of their natural fears. Sadie’s younger brother,Ori, is excited to attend sleep away camp, but cannot imagine leaving his stuffed animal, Nuggles, behind. Ori’s apprehensions mount as he wonders whether his future cabin mates will make fun of him. Anyone who has or will be facing a similar situation will be able to connect with Ori. Julie Fortenberry’s expressive illustrations add to this message.Most will be able to appreciate the fact that some fears are unwarranted. Perceptions are oftentimes trumped by reality. Books such as this one reassure children and help them realize that peers share many of their thoughts and reservations.
Earlier this week, I interviewed Jamie. Click here to read the interview.
In exchange for an honest interview and review, I was sent a copies of Seder in the Desert, Sadie’s Lag Ba’Omer Mystery, and Sadie, Ori, and Nuggles Go to Camp.
New Hanukkah Picture Book (2014)
2 New books for Chanukah (2013)
Sandra Bornstein is the author of MAY THIS BE THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE. It is available on Amazon. Sandra’s memoir highlights her living and teaching adventure in Bangalore, India. She is a licensed Colorado teacher who has taught K-12 students in the United States and abroad as well as college level courses. Sandra is married and has four adult sons. The memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards, the 2013 USA Best Book Awards, and received an Honorable Mention award in the Multicultural Non-Fiction category for the 2013 Global ebook Awards.