No Ordi­nary Yarmulke

Dawn Wilen­sky Tirt­sa Peleg, illus.
  • Review
By – January 19, 2016

Yentl’s Juda­ic Trea­sures is a store for Judaica — with a twist. When Hold­en sets out to find the per­fect yarmulke for his bar mitz­vah, he is led through a jour­ney of Jew­ish his­to­ry. Hold­en is ner­vous about his upcom­ing bar mitz­vah as he enters the store and his moth­er explains to Yentl that they are look­ing for the per­fect yarmulke for the occa­sion. Yentl notes the trep­i­da­tion in Holden’s face and takes out a set of yarmulkes for him to try on. As Hold­en tries on each one, he is trans­port­ed in his mind to anoth­er time in Jew­ish his­to­ry— Noah’s Ark, Egypt, the orig­i­nal Han­nukah, the Holo­caust, and final­ly to the Israel of today. The jour­ney to Israel helps him find his place in the Jew­ish world and the con­fi­dence to move for­ward with his bar mitz­vah. The sto­ry is edu­ca­tion­al and intrigu­ing, pro­vid­ing a brief non-intim­i­dat­ing sur­vey of Jew­ish his­to­ry while enter­tain­ing read­ers with time trav­el and acknowl­edg­ing the real­is­tic fear of per­form­ing at one’s bar mitzvah. 

Peleg’s illus­tra­tions are col­or­ful and pow­er­ful. Each page is bathed in col­or, and the scenes depict­ed enhance the sto­ry­line. The read­er is drawn into each peri­od in his­to­ry, whether he or she is famil­iar with the sto­ries in advance or not. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 8 – 13.

Dro­ra Arussy, Ed.D., is an edu­ca­tion­al con­sul­tant who spe­cial­izes in inte­grat­ing Jew­ish and sec­u­lar stud­ies, the arts into edu­ca­tion, and cre­ative teach­ing for excel­lence in Jew­ish edu­ca­tion. She is the moth­er to four school-age chil­dren and has taught from pre-school through adult. Dro­ra is an adjunct pro­fes­sor of Hebrew lan­guage at Drew University.

Discussion Questions