Tag Archives: Jewish diversity

Kids Ask the Darndest Things

Are there any questions?” I asked. It was my second Book Fair reading of the day. The Book Fair folks had planned an amazing event; the room was packed with kids who had listened fairly attentively. Friends were there and it was great to look out and see not only sweet little faces but the faces of friends who had come from all over to hear my ten minute program. I pointed to a little boy across the room. “Yes?”

“When is this going to be over?” he asked.

W.C. Fields, where are you when we need you? Talk about taking the wind out of an author’s sails. I reminded the little tyke that there was still The Tushy Book to hear about and a visit with a dog who was blind and deaf but who was very sweet. Maybe if faces weren’t his thing, tushies and dogs would be.

It’s been a heady couple of weeks traveling to Connecticut to talk about I Love Jewish Faces and then being a part of Book Fair here, and then traveling to Ann Arbor for readings to two Sunday School classes and then a local author event out there as well. The response to the book has been so gratifying and the kids I read to in Ann Arbor really got the book’s message. They picked up on the image of a mom and her daughter adopted from China which led to a short conversation about how families are formed. Each event I felt a bit more confident, adding some elements to my program, taking away others.

The challenge remains getting the word out, hoping the book reaches the audience I want it to (basically every Jewish family in America, not to mention schools, libraries, and houses of worship!) And more than that I hope its message begins to broaden awareness that Jewish faces come in all colors, from all places and races.

It’s Official — I Love Jewish Faces is Out!

After six years, three editors, rewrites, more hours of photo research than I ever dreamed possible, and a hefty yet worthy debate over the implications of using the word Shabbos, Shabbat or Sabbath, my children’s book — I Love Jewish Faces — has been published!  Two slim copies arrived via plain old USPS but it felt as if they’d been delivered by six white horses drawing a glass carriage.

Holding one’s book for the first time is akin to holding one’s newborn, minus the crazy breathing and the episiotomy. Nothing matches those first few minutes when you savor the text, reading words pulled eons ago from your brain, heart and gut, alive now on the pages — pages beautifully illustrated by someone who understood how to take your vision and make it real.

You are grateful beyond belief — grateful for that moment of inspiration, grateful for the friends and family who listened to you go on and on and still encouraged you, grateful for the editor who believed in you and your story and said when he met you that he couldn’t wait to read your book to his son.

And what is the story of I Love Jewish Faces? What are these ninety-four words and thirty photos about?  Two words — Jewish diversity. The Jewish faces in this book are peach and white; they are light brown and dark brown; they come from places as near as New York and as far away as Tunisia. They are brunette and blonde, old and young, brown-eyed, blue-eyed and almond eyed.

I cannot say I set out to write this book out of a burning desire to broadcast a message of Jewish diversity.  I can say that when the idea of it nudged me, I knew its message had to get out there — kids adopted from other countries need to see themselves and their families in their Jewish books.  The Jewish community needs reminding, too, that Jews come from all “races and places.”

I will be speaking at the Detroit Jewish Book Fair on November 8, in Ann Arbor and at the New Haven Jewish Center in Woodbridge, CT on Nov. 3. Bring your children and grandchildren. Or borrow one for the afternoon. You can read an excerpt from the book by clicking here. Enjoy!