by Danna Zeiger

Dear Kidlit Community,
Unfortunately, Writers’ Rumpus was not able to air this post earlier in the month for logistical reasons. For this, I would personally like to apologize to the Jewish Kidlit community, as I would have liked to have seen both AAPHI and JAHM honored together. There have been many community discussions highlighting the lack of JAHM recognition and awareness across kidlit. With rising hate in the world against both (and other marginalized) groups, May is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and honor Jewish Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders simultaneously. I hope you can join me now, mid-month, in celebrating the many beautiful books and achievements from the Jewish community.
Danna Zeiger

Jewish American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate Jewish contributions across American society, and there are many to choose from! As you read through the wealth of resources, keep in mind that there are common misconceptions about Jewish Americans. Let’s review a few of them:

Common Misconception: Jews are of Eastern-European descent alone

Despite the common misconception about Jewish contributors being of Eastern-European descent alone, Jewish contributors are in fact quite diverse, encompassing practically every country and race you can possibly guess!

Cool Facts! Did you know that nearly 8% of American Jews identify as non-White and non-Hispanic? 4% identify as Hispanic. 1% identify as Black. 3% identify with another race or ethnicity (e.g., Asian, American-Indian, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or more than one race) (pewresearch.org)? Did you know that there are over 170,000 Jews of Ethiopian descent living in Israel (enp.org.il)?

Excellent Literature! For an incredibly well-researched list of diverse Jewish books, please check LibraryThing.com Bookoflife database, which classifies by genre, category, and diversity: https://www.librarything.com/catalog/bookoflife/diversejewishbooks

There are simply too many to list by name here, but having read a large number of these, I can attest to the rich diversity and breadth of experiences, cultures, races, and customs.

Common Misconception: Jews only speak Yiddish and Hebrew

Cool Facts! While many Jewish families of Eastern European descent (see above: certainly not all Jews!) used to speak Yiddish, most Jews in the younger generation do not. Yiddish is an amalgamation of languages including German and Hebrew and is its own language.

However, there are other Jewish languages which are amalgamations of other languages! For example, Ladino is a mix of Castilian Spanish and Hebrew. Unfortunately, all of these languages are endangered.

Many Jews also speak Hebrew but certainly not all.

Excellent Literature!

Luckily, there are beautiful books available about even endangered languages:

Buen Shabat, Shabbat Shalom By Sarah Aroeste


Mazal Bueno! By Sarah Aroeste


Tia Fortuna’s New Home: A Jewish Cuban Journey by Ruth Behar

Common Misconception: Jews are Not a Minority in the US

Cool Facts! According to the Pew Research Center estimates for 2020, only 2.4% of U.S. adults were Jewish.  If you live in an area with a larger Jewish community, like New York, it may be hard to believe that few—or no!—Jews live in many parts of the United States. While the perception that Jews are not a minority or are underrepresented in culture and literature seems to percolate, it is not an accurate perception. It can be hard for Jewish kids living in such areas.

Sources: https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2021/05/11/jewish-americans-in-2020/

Excellent Literature!

To read a kidlit book about such an experience, take a look at My Name is Hamburger by Jacqueline Jules. Jacqueline recently guest posted (March 7, 2023) on Writers’ Rumpus with her delightful post, FOLLOWING THE TRACKS OF A STORY IDEA.

Common Misconception: Jews are a Global Majority

Worldwide, there are approximately 15.2 million Jews (according to worldpopulationreview.com). The Jewish population still has not recovered its numbers since the genocide of the Holocaust.

Cool Facts! Worldwide, Jews account for only 0.19% of the world’s total population—can you imagine how tiny of a fraction that is? In comparison, Christianity and Islam (other ancient major religions) account for about a third *each* of the world’s population.

Excellent Literature!

To read kidlit about this experience, take a look at:

Shoham’s Bangle by Sarah Sassoon

Common Misconception: Jews Do Not Feel Threatened

Sadly, antisemitism is on the rise. The Anti-Defamation League tracks antisemitism including incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault, and has found a 36% increase in incidents throughout the United States in 2022 compared to 2021. It is the highest number of incidents on record since the ADL has began tracking antisemitism in 1979. Unfortunately, this number is only likely to grow.

Anecdotally, every single Jewish school and synagogue that I have seen or heard of has employed armed security due to ongoing threats of violence after several fatal incidents around the United States and other countries. There have been scary, violent, and deadly attacks—too many and too sad to list.

Sources: https://www.adl.org/resources/report/audit-antisemitic-incidents-2022

Even Jewish kidlit creators have encountered antisemitism: https://jewishinsider.com/2021/07/antisemitism-israel-kids-literature/

Excellent Literature! For more kidlit about Jewish antisemitism, check out these books:

The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum


Some Kind of Hate by Sarah Darer Littman

In fact, you can read my January 24, 2023 Writers’ Rumpus interview with the author of Some Kind of Hate.

Writers’ Rumpus has covered the development of tough books about antisemitism:

OUR APPROACH TO TELLING EVA KOR’S TRUE HOLOCAUST STORY TO KIDS, a guest post by Danica Davidson on June 7, 2022


For more Jewish books and resources to discuss difficult topics with kids, such as antisemitism, the PJ Library is a philanthropic, generous, and information-packed resource that actively raises the voices of Jewish creators. Here are two helpful articles:



Common Misconception: Jewish Books are Only About the Holocaust

Cool Facts! Jewish books cover so much more than the Holocaust, although that too is an important topic! Please check out the lists below to get a taste of the enriching Jewish books available!

Excellent Literature! Books about more than just the Holocaust:

From momentmag.com, an article by Erika Dreifus aired on July 14, 2022: New Jewish Kidlit: Beyond the Holocaust and Holidays

Writers’ Rumpus has had the honor of interviewing prolific Jewish authors, whose Jewish books span far more than the Holocaust. One such interview is by Carol Gordon Ekster on June 9, 2020 is LESLEA NEWMAN, Prolific #Kidlit Author.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Lesléa at the PJ Library Highlights Camp in August 2022. Her teaching is as impressive as her repertoire.

Jane Yolen is a famous, prolific Jewish author of over 400 books, covering a range of topics! Kirsti Call interviewed her on April 20, 2021 (click this link to view it).

Susan Kusel, winner of the 2023 ALA equality award, and other esteemed book awards, has also been interviewed at Writers’ Rumpus by Kim Chaffee on February 12, 2021: INTERVIEW WITH SUSAN KUSEL DEBUT PB AUTHOR OF THE PASSOVER GUEST

And last, but most certainly not least, our own Writers’ Rumpus Contributor, Carol Gordon Ekster, is a Jewish author of many wonderful and important books covering a spectrum of topics. Here’s an interview by Hilary Margitich on January 13, 2023: Interview with Picture Book Author Carol Gordon Ekster…and a Critique or Author Chat Giveaway!

A series of Jewish book lists:


A podcast about Jewish kidlit:


Awards for the best in Jewish kidlit:


Mock awards for Jewish kidlit books that are an honor in-and-of themselves!


The generous organization, PJ Library, which publishes and distributes high-caliber Jewish books globally, and its own list of books tackling touch topics:


Booklist on JAHM by Book Riot:

 An extensive list of Jewish books by the Jewish Book Council in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month:

So, how can you celebrate JAHM with your kids?

Celebrating JAHM with your kids:

Here are some ideas, both in-person and online! While this list was written for Connecticut, there are many creative ideas here: https://www.connecticutchildrens.org/diversity-equity-and-inclusion/jewish-american-heritage-month/

See also: https://www.adl.org/resources/lesson-plan/9-ideas-teaching-jewish-american-heritage-month

For More Information on JAHM:

For more information on JAHM, museums to visit, government and other published resources, please visit: https://www.ajc.org/news/jewish-american-heritage-month-resources




Note from the Blog: At Writers’ Rumpus, we support diverse literature and diverse communities of all kinds. We invite you to reach out if you’d like to write a guest post relating to children’s literature and diversity.


  1. What a fabulous post, Danna! Your insightful comments, common misconceptions, and cool facts are so well done and reader friendly. These, along with listing a treasure trove of wonderful works, make a great contribution to educating us all in spreading the word about these beautiful books. So many times I wonder how I can help with current world problems and for this topic, you have shown a clear-cut way to do so. I’ll be sharing your post with librarians, teachers, families, etc. I’m looking forward to reading more of your book suggestions, too. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Danna! Thank you, Writers’ Rumpus! It made my day (and month!) to see this fantastic celebration of JAHM. Can’t wait to share this wonderful resource.

    Liked by 3 people

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