The Fam­i­ly Book of Midrash: Fifty-Two Jew­ish Sto­ries From the Sages

Bar­bara Dia­mond Goldin
  • Review
By – March 30, 2012
How won­der­ful it is that Goldin’s retold tales of hero­ic rab­bis, bib­li­cal char­ac­ters, and indi­vid­ual men and women from the Tal­mud and Midrash are back in print. This paper­back edi­tion faith­ful­ly repro­duces all sto­ries and dec­o­ra­tive page bor­ders from The Child’s Book of Midrash, also pub­lished as The Fam­i­ly Book of Midrash, in 1990 by Jason Aron­son Pub­lish­ers. Clas­sic selec­tions empha­size kind­ness and faith; mir­a­cles are cel­e­brat­ed, and strong plots rein­force moral and eth­i­cal val­ues. Goldin’s col­lec­tion flesh­es out well-known tales, such as Solomon’s bat­tle of wills with the demon king Asmodeus and Rachel’s belief that her shep­herd hus­band Aki­va can become a schol­ar. His­tor­i­cal research and good sto­ry­telling also bring alive less wide­ly cir­cu­lat­ed char­ac­ters, such as Elisha who, chal­lenged by a Roman guard, opens the hand where his for­bid­den prayer box lies hid­den to find a feath­ered sur­prise. Bar­bara Dia­mond Goldin won the Syd­ney Tay­lor Body-of-Work Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries in 1997. With nat­u­ral­ness and warmth, she offers plen­ty of old-time adven­ture, sus­pense, dra­ma, and humor here. Once the sto­ries have been shared aloud — there are enough for each week of the year — 21st cen­tu­ry chil­dren will want to return to re-expe­ri­ence them for them­selves. Bib­li­og­ra­phy, glossary.

Sharon Elswit, author of The Jew­ish Sto­ry Find­er and a school librar­i­an for forty years in NYC, now resides in San Fran­cis­co, where she shares tales aloud in a local JCC preschool and vol­un­teers with 826 Valen­cia to help stu­dents write their own sto­ries and poems.

Discussion Questions