DIJ — Do It Jew­ish: Use Your Jew­ish Creativity!

Bar­bara Bietz, Daria Grinevich (Illus­tra­tor)

  • Review
By – August 9, 2021

There’s an elu­sive, not-quite-defin­able, je-ne-sai-quois qual­i­ty that we call cre­ativ­i­ty, which results in the birth of those incan­des­cent objects we call art, objects that lift us above life’s dai­ly grind, objects that remind us of beau­ty and the sub­lime. What is cre­ativ­i­ty? Can it be bro­ken down, ana­lyzed, quan­ti­fied, under­stood? Can this break­down pro­vide a blue­print for the birth of new cre­ative endeav­ors? Not­ed children’s author, Bar­bara Bietz, makes an attempt to exam­ine the cre­ative process in the sphere of the Jew­ish arts, to focus on its sub­stance, and to guide would-be writ­ers, painters, musi­cians, and oth­ers through a process in which the ulti­mate goal is the cre­ation of some­thing new that may sur­prise and delight.

In an attempt to make the giant and amor­phous top­ic of cre­ativ­i­ty feel man­age­able, Bietz breaks it down into dis­crete areas: film, car­toons and graph­ic nov­els, cook­ing and cre­at­ing recipes, song­writ­ing, paint­ing and art, writ­ing midrash, and cre­at­ing Judaica. Each top­ic is then bro­ken down fur­ther, mak­ing it easy for the read­er to under­stand and actu­al­ize each con­cept. One or more artists are fea­tured in each cat­e­go­ry. Each artist is intro­duced, some per­son­al back­ground is includ­ed, and the artist shares prac­ti­cal advice and expe­ri­ences, help­ing to ease the read­er into a place of com­fort and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. Each chap­ter con­tains sec­tions that serve as a roadmap or guide to an aspir­ing cre­ator, such as how to find ideas, how to refine the work, and how to inte­grate Jew­ish con­cepts. Fas­ci­nat­ing details about the work of each artist keeps inter­est piqued and pages turning.

Win­some draw­ings accom­pa­ny the text. The illus­tra­tions clar­i­fy, amuse, and add to the atmos­phere of cre­ativ­i­ty, which is the heart and the sub­stance of the book. The for­mat is fresh, live­ly, and appealing,

A final page enti­tled Why Jew­ish Cre­ativ­i­ty” helps inspire bud­ding artists to shed their inhi­bi­tions and plunge into the deep, invig­o­rat­ing waters of inge­nu­ity, to find new out­lets for their imag­i­na­tions and tal­ents. This unique book is a per­fect exam­ple of cre­ativ­i­ty in action.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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