By DAVID CRUMM
ReadTheSpirit Magazine Editor
Christian children grow up learning songs that celebrate their diversity. Red and yellow, black and white, all are precious in His sight. And: He’s got the whole world in His hand!
Jewish children grow up encountering an ugly legacy that dates back many centuries as anti-Semites tried to categorize Jews as looking a certain way—all in the service of excluding and persecuting Jewish communities.
In fact, Jews don’t all look alike!
According to Pew Research, American Jews are about as racially diverse a group as Episcopalians, United Methodists and Lutherans. All of those mainline denominations go out of their way to celebrate their diversity in everything from Sunday school materials to their church websites. (Side Note: The most racially diverse religious groups in America are Seventh-Day Adventists and Muslims; and the most homogenous are the historic African-American denominations.)
Author, educator and all-around creative storyteller Debra Darvick decided to tackle that infamous old stereotype about Jews head on! She created the colorful, photo-illustrated book for children, We Are Jewish Faces. Dozens of delightful photos show Jews enjoying life in all their global diversity. The images are accompanied by a rhythmic text that’s sprinkled with Yiddish and Hebrew terms and is fun for families to read aloud—over and over again. The book begins:
Bubbe faces, Zayde faces,
Brother, Sister, Friendship faces,
Faces of all Races and Places,
We are Jewish faces.
“The goal of this book was to neutralize once and for all the expression: ‘Funny you don’t look Jewish!’ ” Debra told me in an interview. “In this book, I’m showing the many faces of Jewish life. Period. When you finish this book, there’s no question: You can be any color and be Jewish.”
DEBRA’S VISION GOES WORLDWIDE!
Debra Davick is among the many authors published by ReadTheSpirit Books. Her collection of real-life stories, This Jewish Life, showcases special themes that take readers through the entire Jewish year. Thousands of readers, each year, visit our website about that book to enjoy the excerpts we posted.
We Are Jewish Faces was published by Apples & Honey Press, a division of the Jewish educational services company Behrman House.
All of us are celebrating the news that Jewish Faces has been chosen for distribution in 2019 through the PJ Library. This is a global program sponsored by the Grinspoon Foundation. Harold Grinspoon is a real estate tycoon from Massachusetts who made a commitment to give at least half of his wealth to philanthropic causes. In 2004, according to The New York Times, Grinspoon heard a National Public Radio story about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which has distributed more than 80 million children’s books to improve family literacy. Grinspoon decided he wanted his foundation to follow suit—but with a Jewish twist. At some point in 2019, Debra’s We Are Jewish Faces will travel around the world through the PJ Library distribution program.