Thoughtfully chosen and cheerfully retold, this gathering of eight Jewish stories is sure to delight listeners and readers. Rabbi Boyd Gelfand offers a fresh take on some old favorites to share the beauty and humor in Jewish culture and explain moral values. Here is a smart daughter who not only answers all of the king’s riddles but also has compassion for others. Here is a man who is baffled by decisions the prophet Elijah makes about which people he rewards on their journeys and an illiterate thirteen year old who cuts paper letters that miraculously form themselves into the Yom Kippur prayers he cannot recite plus five more classics.
Casting three traditionally male protagonists as female feels unforced in “Challah in the Ark” where a baker thinks God has been eating her bread for years, never knowing that those loaves have given sustenance to a hungry synagogue worker; in “Heaven and Hell” where a generous woman is shown the difference between people who think to give to each other and those who do not; and in “The Perfect Mistake” where an artisan teaches the king a new way to appreciate his cracked diamond.
Hall’s pastel hues warmly fill full pages and there are spot illustrations with scenes and characters from the stories in watercolor, chalk, colored pencil, and digital layering.
Messing’s voice on the recordings is sweet and clear and the recordings include all the stories.
Both the book and the accompanying CDs have been produced with care. This charming folktale collection proudly speaks to Jewish children ages seven and up and provides a wonderful introduction to Jewish folklore for general audiences, as well. The book includes a glossary, sources, and 2 CDs.
Sharon Elswit, author of The Jewish Story Finder, now resides in San Francisco, where she has been helping students visiting 826 Valencia locations around the city to write stories and poems and getting adults up and retelling Jewish folktales to share with their own spin.