Archive for the ‘She-asani Yisrael/ Who made me a Jew’ Category

We Are Jews: She-asani Yisrael/ Who made me a Jew

Books used in this review are from my personal library or were provided by my local public library. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my website and purchase it from Amazon, I may receive a very small commission on your purchase. You will incur no additional cost, however. I appreciate your support.

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 We are on the twelfth blessing of the Nisim B’Chol Yom/the blessings for daily miracles recited during morning prayers:

 “Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe,

Who made me a Jew.”

 When my husband and I were married, we had a Catholic priest and a rabbi perform the wedding ceremony. Because the Catholic priest would be doing most of the ritual, my husband (the Jewish party) had to agree to raise our children as Catholics.  You can understand, then, that when our son was born (almost 30 years ago,) and my husband said he wanted him to be Jewish, that I was a bit shocked. I had thought the decision was made. Yet there we were spending hours discussing the pros and cons of each of our faiths. Ultimately, after a lot of searching and researching, we decided on Judaism.

Recently, memories of those discussions flooded my mind with the news that three teenage boys had been murdered in Israel. While there may be debate about the appropriateness of their being out, alone, hitchhiking in Gaza late at night, the fact is they are dead. And they are dead for the simple reason that they were Jews. That truth has brought all of those endless discussions between my spouse and I back into very clear focus.  I vividly recall saying to my husband more than once, “You are asking me to make a choice that could ultimately result in the death of my child for the simple reason that we made this choice for him. People will hate him, find ways to hurt him and perhaps want to kill him, just because we decide to make him Jewish – AND FOR NO OTHER REASON.”

As I write this, I am hearing the awful news that a young Muslim/Israeli boy (15 years old, from East Jerusalem,) was kidnapped and murdered – possibly burned alive – by what appears to be Jewish fanatics looking for revenge. This tears at my heart as much as the murder of the three Jewish/Israeli teens. What right do we…does any individual have to take life for any reason? Will the murder of this child bring those other three children back? I wish…I hope the people of Israel will read the message of Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, an Orthodox rabbi I greatly admire.  “Say Kaddish,” he writes. “Do Kaddish…” he goes on. Study Torah, give Tzedakah, perform mitzvot…make the world a better place. Honor these FOUR teenage boys who died needlessly.

I believe we made the right choice for our children, just as I know I made the right choice for myself. Everything about Judaism resonates with me and my beliefs in how people should care for themselves, care for each other and care for the world around them. Judaism is a faith that cherishes life over everything—Jewish zealots notwithstanding—using each moment of our precious time on earth to find a way to be our best selves and help in repairing the world. Clearly, we have a lot of work to do, and once the mourning period is over, we will be back at it.

Rabbi Steinsaltz knows. Jewish fanatics apparently do not. The Jewish People will survive this tragedy, just as we survived the murder of Daniel Pearl, the slaughter of the Israeli Olympic team, and the horrors of the Holocaust…Because we are Jews.

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.


Celebrate: A Book of Jewish Holidays. By Judi Gross. Illustrated by Bari Weissman. ©2005. Grosset & Dunlap. Ages 3-8.  This small, concise little paperback illustrates and celebrates the major Jewish holidays from Rosh Hashanah through Passover and includes Shabbat. A fun, simple book for the entire family to enjoy throughout the year.

 ItsItsItsaMitzvahIt’s a…It’s a…It’s a Mitzvah. By Elizabeth Suneby and Diane Heiman. Illustrated by Laurel Molk. ©2012. Jewish Lights Publishing. Ages 4-8. Happy Meerkats teach young children the joys of performing Mitzvot and doing tikkun olam to help heal the world. Demonstrating easy to do tasks that can bring joy to others, these charmingly illustrated creatures show children how Jewish wisdom can be part of their lives as well.

Jewish ChJewishChildWhyild’s First Book of Why. By Alfred J. Kolatch. Illustrated by Harry Araten. ©1992. Jonathan David Publishers. Ages 4-8. The traditions and customs of Judaism are explained using simple language and captivating illustrations. Questions like: “Why do we fast on Yom Kippur?” and “Why do we plant trees?”  are answered in a style that even the youngest child can understand.


The Jewish Kids’ Catalog. By Chaya Burstein. ©1998. The Jewish Publication Society. Ages 7-11.  For older children, this is Basic Judaism in a book. From Jewish History to Jewish Holidays, with songs, crafts, and a ton of information about important Jewish People and Sites, everything your child wants to know about Judaism is close at hand.

WhatMakesJewWhat Makes Someone a Jew? By Lauren Seidman. Illustrated with photographs. ©2007. Jewish Lights Publishing. Ages 4-8. This very modern look at Judaism reinforces that being Jewish is about doing good in the world and not how you look or where you live. Filled with photographs of Jews from around the world, adopted children, individuals who have converted to Judaism and any other person who might be considered Jewish, children will enjoy exploring and finding themselves in the photos and the simple, rhyming text.




©2014 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and All rights reserved.