Jewish Life:

Mitzvot, A Jewish Home, Kosher Rules, Explaining God to Children, Ethics, and Morality

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Jewish Life Books for Children (Mitzvot, Keeping Kosher, etc.) ... Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6

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Does God Have a Big Toe? : Stories About Stories in the Bible

God's Mailbox : More Stories About Stories in the Bible

By Rabbi Marc Gellman

  • Notable Books of 1989 (NYT)
  • Best Illustrated Children's Books of 1989 (NYT)
  • Children's Books of 1989 (Library of Congress)

Humorous retellings that will appeal to children's funny bones but which, nevertheless, capture the spirit of the Bible stories on which they are based. In colloquial language richly laced with humor, Gellman retells an assortment of stories from the Bible. Without turning them into sermons, he successfully reinforces the messages of these tales. For reference, chapters and verses follow each tale. Tilley's comical illustrations add to the lighthearted atmosphere of the text.

Does God Have a Big Toe? is the first book in the series; God's Mailbox is the sequel

I Am Jewish American

By Elizabeth Weitzman
Rachel, a young girl living in Chicago, offers her perspective on the history, beliefs, and life style of her Jewish American community. In one-page chapters she touches on the reasons her grandmother's family left Eastern Europe, their journey to America, and their adjustment to a new land. She introduces topics such as the Sabbath, respect for learning, traditional foods, and her family's strong emotional and spiritual ties to Israel. Unfortunately, the author's use of the term "Wailing Wall" is no longer widely accepted; the preferred designation among Jews is now "Western Wall." The religious denomination represented is not identified, but a traditional, though not necessarily Orthodox, orientation is indicated. An informative full-color or sepia photograph faces each page of text. A useful and accessible book for children of all backgrounds.

Description from School Library Journal

Where Are You, Hashem?
A simple basic question that every child asks! Here is a simple, basic answer, which every child can understand.

Description from Publisher

Sweet Words to God:
A Child's Book of Jewish Prayers

By Rabbi Arnold Goodman,
The Jewish home is called a mikdash me'at, a mini sanctuary. While the synagogue experience is treasured and an important component of the Jewish religious life, the home is where early memories are formed and basic attitudes about God, prayer, and community begin to take shape.

In a charming illustrated volume, Rabbi Arnold Goodman of Atlanta's Ahavath Achim Synagogue has compiled short prayers for Jewish children to learn at home on a range of subjects. One section offers everyday prayers to help them give thanks for daily blessings, such as a warm bed and food to eat. Another has prayers for special occasions, including giving thanks for a new toy or expressing affection for a family member or pet. A third section provides prayers of solace for times of sorrow or sadness. The final sections honors Jewish holidays such as Passover and Yom Kippur.

Rabbi Goodman also offers insight on the importance of prayer for children and gives suggestions of how to teach them to pray in a way that will be spiritually rewarding. This indispensable little book is the perfect companion for every small child.

Description from Publisher

For Heaven's Sake

By Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Isaiah hears the expression,"for heaven's sake" often, and decides he wants to find out what and where heaven is, particularly since he has been told that his grandfather is there. After unsatisfactory answers from his father, uncle, sister, and the mail carrier, he asks his grandmother. Isaiah and his grandmother then spend the day looking for heaven in all the places that his grandfather frequented: the soup kitchen where he volunteered, the library, and choir practice. When the child does not see the intended connections, Grandma answers, "I think, Isaiah, we can get close to heaven and to God in a place in our hearts. I feel there is a part of Grandpa in all the places and people we visited today, and a little bit of heaven, too." Sasso's comforting words and Finney's large, vibrant paintings will draw in young listeners. An excellent, nonsectarian choice for exploring a difficult concept.

Description from School Library Journal

Isaiah keeps hearing people say, "For heaven's sake," but no one seems able to tell him where or what heaven is. For his dad, heaven is eating fudge brownies, for his uncle, heaven is some place up in the sky. Isaiah's sister isn't sure there's a heaven at all. Finally, Isaiah goes to his recently widowed grandmother, who says she will show him heaven. At first, Isaiah is confused. How can heaven be at the soup kitchen, the library, and in a choir concert. But as his grandmother explains, heaven is found in unlikely places, and in one's heart. Finally, Isaiah understands: "Grandpa is in heaven, and heaven is also in you." ... Children will intuitively understand the message that there can be many representations of heaven and many places where it could be found. The acrylic paintings, if not conventionally attractive, are eye-catching and strong. A thoughtful rendering.

Description from Booklist

This thoughtful, honest picture book offers answers to the question "What is heaven?" Sasso--a rabbi and the author of such picture books as In God's Name--works in concert with a young reader's imagination: her approach is firmly grounded yet sensitive, responding to a child's concerns while leaving room for personal interpretation. Her protagonist, Isaiah, hearing phrases like "for heaven's sake," asks about heaven, but none of the answers he receives satisfies him. Finally, remembering that his grandfather was said to have gone to heaven after his death a few months earlier, Isaiah turns to his grandmother. She agrees to help him look for heaven, and takes him first to the soup kitchen where his grandfather had volunteered, then to story hour at the library and finally to a choir rehearsal. Isaiah has a good time, but doesn't understand, until Grandma explains: "I think we can get close to heaven and to God in a place in our hearts. I feel there is a part of Grandpa in all the places and people we visited today, and a little bit of heaven, too."

Description from Publishers Weekly

Let's Learn About Kosher Food
With its endearing and amusing illustrations and its fun format, this book is a winner at teaching about the laws of kashrus. You will be treated to a wealth of information presented in dialogue form as you accompany the 6th grade girls on their preparations for a huge bas mitzvah party.

Description from Publisher


By Chanie Friedman
Meet a boy who shows us that, You can score many ways when you're at bat. And when a good deed comes your way. Do it now, or it may go away.

Description from Publisher

This charming book teaches children why mitzvot cannot wait. Benjie is the star player on his team's baseball team. Much like in the tale of "Casey at the Bat", Benjie is due up at a crucial team. Benjie hits the ball and rounds the bases, but instead of scoring, he runs out of the park to help Rabbi Brown with some packages. Benjie explains to his confused teammates why this mitzvah could not wait. This delightful picture book features a witty rhyming scheme that will engage children during storytime. The story-within-a-story causes the story to lose a little bit of flow, but that does not take away from the overall fun that children will have with Benjie's tale.

Lori's Description

Hear O Israel:
The Shema Story Books

Book 1: First I Say the Shema

Book 2: About Learning

Book 3: About Belonging
Illustrated in full color, these three titles introduce the very young child to the basic concepts of Jewish identity.

Book 1: First I Say the Shema

Book 2: About Learning

Book 3: About Belonging

Description from Publisher

My Upsheren Book
For a three-year-old boy, his "upsheren" - the traditional first haircut - is an exciting event. It can also be an occasion for anxiety, which is why this book was conceived: to help parents prepare for, and reassure their child about this special day. The text's clear and simple style is complemented by delicate watercolor drawings.

Description from Publisher
Take Care Of Me
Take Care Of Me
Moishy the Mezuzah has an important job. He hangs on the doorpost and protects the Fine family from harm. Then one day, Moishy gets sick. Will the Fine family get him to a sofer in time?...... Whimsical illustrations complement this warm tale, which instills in its readers an appreciation for the Mitzvah of Mezuzah.

from the Publisher

Who Knows One?
A Book of Jewish Numbers
Full-color pictures about the Jewish significance of the numbers 1 through 613. Touches upon a wide spectrum of Jewish living.

Description from Publisher

The Very Best Book

By Dina Rosenfeld
Splendidly designed for ages 2-5, The Very Best Book selected familiar items that a child sees ever day like boxes for cereal, coins for candy, water in raindrops, bottle of soda--and then shows how these same objects can be used for mitzvos. The box is an esrog box, coins are for tzedakah, water in the washing cup, and a bottle of wine for kiddush. Ordinary everyday things used in a special Jewish way. "Boxes, baskets, bottles and coins come in different shapes and sizes -- but what is the very best use for all these objects: Coins in the meter, coins to buy candy, and coins in the phone for a call, but, the coins that go to tzedakah are the very best coins of all!" Bright, vibrant full color illustrations bring each item and every page to life. The Very Best Book is, itself, a very best book indeed!

Description from Children's Bookwatch

This lovely book takes ordinary objects - bottles, coins, water, oil, boxes and baskets - and illustrates in very simple rhyme how we can do ordinary in the performance of Jewish ritual. For instance, in a lively two-page spread, children are shown using coins to buy treats, make a phone call, and feed a parking meter. On the next spread they are shown giving coins to the needy. The text tells us, "Coins in the meter/Coins to buy candy,/ And coins in the phone for a call, but. . . Coins that go to tzedakah (charity) / Are the very best coins of all!" Your little ones will probably want to hear each rhyme until they can recite them by heart.

Description from Amit Magazine

Bedtime Stories of Jewish Values

By Shmuel Blitz
Honesty, loyalty, piety, generosity, faith -- there is a long list of virtues that parents and teachers long to inculcate in their children. Textbooks cannot do it. Preaching often fails. Example is hard to find.

Stories are often the best tool. What can be more enjoyable than a good story, and what can be more effective than such a story with a moral subtly woven within it?

Such are the stories in this new offering from the pen of Shmuel Blitz, illustrated by the brush of Liat Binyamini Ariel, whose collaboration began with the best-selling Treasury of Jewish Bedtime Stories.

In this new, beautifully illustrated collection, Blitz tells many stories with a message. Some are familiar. Some are original. All are adapted for a child’s interest.

The reader may note that many of the stories originate in Talmudic and Midrashic literature. Others are familiar from generations ago. Here they are crafted to grab a child’s wide-eyed attention and keep him or her asking to hear them and feast on their illustrations again and again. The sturdy, child-resistant binding guarantees many days and nights of enjoyable, beneficial use.

Put this book with your child’s favorites, and watch the virtues flow.

Descripiton from Publisher

Mark Stark's Amazing Jewish Cookbook
Mark Stark's Amazing Jewish Cookbook is a delightful cookbook for the entire family. This hand-drawn volume includes recipes for traditional Jewish foods such as bagels, chicken soup and matzah balls, as well as holiday treats like potato latkes and Passover sponge cake. The user-friendly format of Mark Stark's Amazing Jewish Cookbook allows beginning cooks and seasoned chefs alike access to the world of traditional Jewish cooking. All recipes detail (1) how many people the recipe will serve; (2) what ingredients and tools are needed; and (3) the steps involved in making it.

Arranged by Jewish holiday-and accompanied by summaries of holiday customs and practices-these recipes make preparation for special events a fun and easy family activity.

Mark has also filled his cookbook with information any cook should know, such as safety tips, how to measure ingredients, and an "A-Z" glossary of cooking terms. The quick guide for cooking kosher foods is a useful and educational addition to this volume.

Whether this is a family's first or 50th Jewish culinary experience, this book provides all the tools necessary to create a seder plate for Passover, make perfect hamantashen for Purim-and many other memorable adventures.

Description from Publisher

Double Decker Purple Shul Bus

By Michoel Muchnik
It's the only synagogue in the world that's closed for Shabbat and Yom Tov. Why? Because it's on wheels!

When taking a trip into the city to visit their relatives the children learn about many things connected with a synagogue on this special dual purpose bus.

Description from Publisher

Avi's Adventures in the Mitzvah Car
Avi's magical Mitzvah car teaches him that we can all do mitzvot if we just open up our eyes. The story is written in a fun, rhyming style and is complemented by lavish, colorful illustrations.

Description from Publisher

My First Book of Mitzvos

By Isaiah Schild Karlinsky
A simple introduction to 18 major mitzvos, or good deeds. Each double-page spread presents and explains a single concept in clear, simple text; black-and-white photos further expand and elucidate. Mitzvos include both religious obligations and social responsibilities; e.g., ritual hand washing, prayers before meals, respect for the elderly, welcoming guests and charitable contributions.

Description from School Library Journal

Thirty-One Cakes

By Loren Hodes
While Estie is helping her mother bake thirty-one cakes for a tzedakah bake sale, something very precious gets lost! Will anyone find and return Estie's gold ring? Join our little heroine as she discovers that, "Someone with Hashavas Aveida to do, is someone I'm certain will really come through.

Description from Publisher

Yossi, the Boy Who Wouldn't Speak Loshon Hora

By Phyllis Weinberg
Yossi's devotion to Torah values leads him to endure punishment and embarrassment rather than gossip about his friend.

Description from Publisher

Just Right:
The Story of a Jewish Home
It is a big adventure for Rivkie and her family to move into a new empty house. As the furniture, carpets, plants, toys and clothes all get put away in their respective places, the family starts to feel at home. That is, until Rivkie discovers that something is missing. Follow Rivkie as she shows her family exactly how to make Hashem welcome in their new Jewish Home.

Description from Publisher

My Jewish Home

(Board Book)

By Rabbi Andrew Goldstein
Follow a toddler through each room of his house and find the ritual objects that make it a Jewish home.

Description from Publisher

Gates of Wonder
A Prayerbook For Very Young Children

By Howard Bogot, Robert Orkand and Joyce Orkand
This is the first official prayerbook for young children ever produced by the Reform Movement. Intended for pre-school children through six years of age, Gates of Wonder is beautifully and sensitively illustrated by award-winning artist Neil Waldman. Children will be drawn to the charming text; its educational and entertaining qualities make it fun to read. They will find rainbows, night and day, the fascinating differences found in people, Shabbat and Torah. As young children enter the Gates of Wonder they will experience a world of beauty, a world of mystery and the enduring world of Jewish prayer.

Description from Publisher

This book is one of the best I've ordered so far. The writing is in large bold print and there are only a few sentances per page, so it holds a toddler's attention. There is a great message and the illustrations are adorable. Great children's book!

Description from Customer Review

10 Jewish Fun Books

By Various Authors
(Dover Publications)
Entertaining and educational set of little activity books introduces Jewish religion and culture with a colorful assortment of stickers, stencil and tattoo collections, mazes and follow-the-dots games, coloring books, and an invisible magic picture book.

Description from Publisher

Jewish Fun Set

By Various Authors
(Dover Publications)
Entertaining introduction to Jewish religion includes Little Jewish Stained Glass Coloring Book, Fun with Jewish Stencils, Little Jewish Stickers. 3-vol. set.

Description from Publisher

Old Turtle

By Douglas Wood
In a poetic fable, all creation debates the nature of God, each thing imagining that God reflects its own image: the antelope insists that God "is a runner, swift and free," while the willow murmurs that "She is a great tree...always growing, always giving." The wise old turtle ends the argument: God is all these things, and more. She also makes a prediction: "There will soon be a new family of beings" who will be reminders of what God is. However, the people in turn begin to argue about God, and also to harm the rest of creation. Then the ocean, the breeze, and even the stars remind them of God's presence and love, and in time the people begin to listen. Wood's graceful phrasing and understated irony give his plea unusual power, especially as complemented by Chee's outstanding watercolors, joyfully celebrating the world's beauty; his portraits of Old Turtle are masterfully detailed and delightfully subtle. A handsome, thought-provoking book, especially appropriate for collections that support religious instruction.

Description from Kirkus Reviews

When all of creation--trees, stones, ants, the sky, fish—-begins arguing over who or what God is, quiet Old Turtle is the only one who has the wisdom and ability to see beyond herself to capture the essence. The debate escalates until Old Turtle finally speaks: "STOP!" She accepts and incorporates the beliefs of all the creatures: "God is indeed deep," she says to the fish in the sea, "and much higher than high," she tells the mountains. "God is gentle and powerful. Above all things and within all things... God IS." Old Turtle, after silencing the crowds with her understanding, makes a prediction about the appearance of a new "family of beings" in the world. These beings, human beings, do appear, and soon are fighting among themselves over the nature of God. It is only when people start listening to the mountains and winds and stones and stars that they actually begin to hear--and to heal the earth.

A graceful fable, with elegant, dreamlike watercolors by illustrator Cheng-Khee Chee, Douglas Wood's modern-day classic makes a hushed but strong environmental statement, as well as a plea for universal acceptance.

Description from

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