Kol Hakavod: Way to Go!

Jamie Kif­fel-Alcheh (auth.), Sarah-Jayne Mer­cer (illus.)

  • Review
By – October 10, 2019

A child who attends syn­a­gogue with his/​her par­ents or trav­els to Israel may hear the con­gre­ga­tion say, Kol HaKavod,” but not know what the Hebrew expres­sion means. This rhyming pic­ture book explains the phrase using sce­nar­ios that a young­ster can relate to, along with sweet, help­ful, col­or­ful illustrations.

The book begins by defin­ing each Hebrew word. Kol means, every­thing. It’s all. It’s whole.” While kavod trans­lates to, “…gee! It’s wow. It’s hon­or, respect. It’s whoa, holy cow.” The next page defines the two words togeth­er, putting them into a phrase that lit­er­al­ly means all respect” and denotes hon­or. The remain­der of the book illus­trates, in both words and pic­tures, exam­ples from a child’s life which mer­it a shout out of Kol HaKavod.”

The good deeds men­tioned include every­thing from giv­ing up a seat on the sub­way, to help­ing a preg­nant woman, feed­ing a pet, recy­cling, or putting mon­ey in the tzedekah (char­i­ty) box. They also illus­trate show­ing kind­ness to class­mates, like ask­ing some­one new, who’s sit­ting alone, to col­or with you,” as well as help­ing around the house by clean­ing up with­out dis­turb­ing a sleep­ing mother.

Each relat­able exam­ple is accom­pa­nied by a car­toon illus­tra­tion with a diverse cast of chil­dren and adults in many shapes, sizes, col­ors, and ages, and includes one pic­ture of a child in a wheelchair.

Author Jamie Kif­fel-Alcheh and illus­tra­tor Sarah-Jayne Mer­cer relay the impor­tance of kind actions, no mat­ter how small, through sim­ple lan­guage and engag­ing illus­tra­tions, which cap­ture the atten­tion of young chil­dren. Par­ents, grand­par­ents, babysit­ters, old­er sib­lings, teach­ers, and oth­er car­ing adults, will also enjoy read­ing this book aloud with its ono­matopoeia, allit­er­a­tion and rhyming cou­plets that tick­le the tongue.

Paula Chaiken has worked in a vari­ety of capac­i­ties in the Jew­ish world — teach­ing in reli­gious school, curat­ing at the Sper­tus Muse­um and fundrais­ing for the Fed­er­a­tion — for more than twen­ty years. She also runs a bou­tique pub­lic rela­tions con­sult­ing firm and enjoys read­ing all sorts of books with her three sons.

Discussion Questions