7 Books to Celebrate Jewish Life

A graphic novel with a fearless mensch at its center, a tour of art that celebrates Jewish life, a sweet tale of leavening on Mimouna Night, and more—these are the stories that transcend politics and find joy around every corner.

Books about Jewish Joy

A graphic novel with a fearless mensch at its center, a picture book tour of art that celebrates Jewish life, a sweet tale of leavening on Mimouna Night, and more—these are the stories that transcend politics and find joy around every corner.

Sunday with Savta by Wiley Blevins. illus. by Eliahou Eric Bokobza. Reycraft. 2021. ISBN 9781478870494.
K-Gr 2–This heartwarming story introduces readers to a number of Jewish holidays and customs. The book opens with the unnamed protagonist and his family welcoming Savta, Hebrew for grandmother, to their home in New York. Jaw-droppingly detailed mixed-media illustrations show the grandson and Savta visiting various New York City landmarks before arriving at the Jewish Museum. This introduction to Jewish holy days and customs is a solid addition to most collections.

Going Rogue (At Hebrew School) by Casey Breton. Green Bean. 2020. ISBN 9781784385392.
Gr 4-6–Ten-year-old Avery Green loves three things in life: football, science, and Star Wars. One thing he does not love? Going to Hebrew school twice a week. His parents assure him that it’s only until his bar mitzvah, but that’s three whole years away. The book’s length and fast pace make it easy for reluctant readers to enjoy this relatable tale of being forced into cultural and/or religious activities by one’s family.

No Vacancy by Tziporah Cohen. Groundwood. 2020. ISBN 9781773064109.
Gr 4-6–Miriam Brockman needs a miracle. Her family has relocated from New York City to a tiny (population 510) town in rural New York State. With no experience, they’ve purchased and plan to run a small motel. A leisurely paced, character-rich tale of family, religious faith, and the human need for the miraculous, this is strongly recommended for middle grade collections.

Girl on the Ferris Wheel by Julie Halpern & Len Vlahos. Feiwel & Friends. 2021. ISBN 9781250169396.
Gr 8 Up–In this story of how friendship and love can grow together, both Dmitri and Eliana come from large families: Eliana’s large Jewish family is close but crowded in her small home, while Dmitri is surrounded by his larger-than-life, outgoing Greek family. Alternating chapters tell their story from each perspective, revealing their hopes, desires, and thoughts. As Eliana strives to understand how her depression clouds her view of life, forcing her to shut down and avoid everyone, Dmitri must likewise turn inward and learn to slow down and not crowd.

My Life in Transition: A Super Late Bloomer Collection by Julia Kaye. illus. by author. Andrews McMeel. 2021. ISBN 9781524860462.
Gr 9 Up–Kaye’s new collection of comics documents her day-to-day life three years after her gender transition. Kaye, who is Jewish, uses powerful imagery to express her joy—a body being cracked open, with a new person emerging—or dysphoria: Kaye floating in space. Her story will resonate with comics fans, especially those who are transitioning or care about someone who is.

Chunky by Yehudi Mercado. illus. by author. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. 2021. ISBN 9780062972798.
Gr 4-8–Middle school student Hudi has become a regular at his local hospital, due to a variety of injuries and other health issues, including losing a lung, then finds himself thrust into the world of team sports. But Hudi’s humor and imagination keep him going in this compelling coming-of-age memoir.

A Sweet Meeting on Mimouna Night by Allison Ofanansky. illus. by Rotem Teplow. Groundwood. ISBN 9781773063973.
Gr 1-5–When Passover ends, along with dietary restrictions, the Moroccan Jewish holiday of Mimouna begins, but where do observant Jews find flour at that time of night for the traditional and delicious moufleta? A lesson of intercultural cooperation, subtle but compelling, is a disarming introduction to an important holiday.

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