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Education Fellows & Their Favorite Jewish Books
By ISJL Education Fellow Mackenzie Haun
In honor of National Book Month, I thought it might be fun to share the favorite Jewish books of the ISJL Education Fellows! We all grew up reading different books, so we are providing a wide array of options spanning from children’s books to academic volumes.
Becca Leaman – Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel – Becca chose a wonderful childhood classic to start us off. She said, “I really loved reading this book as a child because of both the story and the amazing pictures. I enjoy it now because I get to pass it on to another generation of Jewish kids!”
Carly Abramson – The Littlest Pair by Sylvia A. Rouss – Carly is sharing a family friendly book, saying, “I didn’t grow up reading a ton of Jewish books, so I had a bit of a hard time choosing a book to share until I remembered this. I read this book during one of my visits as a read-aloud book during a program and both the kids and I really enjoyed it.”
Carrie Bohn – Number the Stars by Lois Lowry – Carrie’s favorite Jewish book is one that many of us may have read long ago, but is worth revisiting. “The family in the story is incredibly brave, and I read this book in middle school when I really needed strength."
Hannah Klegon – The Color of Water by James McBride – This autobiographical book struck a chord with Hannah during college. “The Color of Water is the only book that I read during my time in college that I actually enjoyed. The writing style juxtaposing the narratives of the characters was really interesting.”
Harrison Bleiberg – Everyman's Talmud: The Major Teachings of the Rabbinic Sages by Abraham Cohen – According to Harrison, “This is one of the best books I've read that presents Talmud commentary in a clear, easy to read format that anyone of any experience level could grasp. Highly enjoyable for anyone wanting to dive deep without having to dig through the ‘fluff.’”
Josh Altshuler – The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – Josh sees a lot of value in this book, saying, “I love that the book gives a voice to a character on the sidelines. Additionally, through the narrative of female matriarchs and daughters, the reader is offered a sacred glimpse at the relationships between women in every generation.”
Kesler Friedman – The Lion Seeker by Kenneth Bonert – This story holds a very personal message for Kesler. “It's an immigrant, coming-of-age story about a Jewish family making a new life in war-torn Johannesburg. It's exactly the story of my family history. The characters in the book are from Lithuania, like my family is. And the boy in the book even lives in the same neighborhood my dad grew up in. Very close to home.”
Mackenzie Haun – Rashi’s Daughters series by Maggie Anton – This whole series is an incredible look into what life may have been like for the daughters of one of the most prominent Jewish scholars in history. While it is dramatized to make it interesting to read, it is also very well researched. “I actually got to meet Maggie Anton when I first read the series in middle school and she was very nice, which is just a bonus.”
Rachel Katz – Dave at Night by Gail Carson Levine – This book takes us on a journey through Harlem in the 20th Century, but with the addition of a Jewish lens. Rachel loves this book because, “I like how much the relationship between Dave and Solomon grows throughout the book. The adventures that Dave had when he snuck out of the orphanage at night were thrilling and fun to read.”