Jul 24, 2012

Janusz Korczak and the Power of Storytelling

Though the Holocaust is unequivocally understood as a time of pain and suffering, of fear and distress, it was also a time of unshaken loyalty and devotion, showing the world that light can still exist in a period of darkness.

Kar-Ben author Gloria Spielman’s book, Janusz Korczak’s Children, illuminates this important aspect. In 38 pages, we hear the extraordinary story of Janusz Korczak, a Polish doctor, writer, and orphanage head who provided hundreds of children with food, shelter, and a sense of purpose. Though ultimately overtaken by the Nazis, Korczak stood by his children until the bitter end.

At night when the children were sleeping, Korczak would write children’s books that he would share with the children in his orphanage, sparking their imaginations and dreams. One of his books, Kaytek the Wizard, was recently translated into English. The book tells the story of a Polish boy that travels the world looking for meaning, only to realize that his home and family are what matter most.  Kaytek the Wizard was recently reviewed by Jewish Book Review blog.

Janusz Korczak’s Children teaches one of the most important lessons a child can learn: even in the harshest conditions, the human capacity for good remains, and the potential for light is ever-present.

 -Max Edwards

Purchase a print copy or eBook of Janusz Korczak's ChildrenDownload a free Teacher's Guide for this title

Jul 16, 2012

Seventy Years Since the “Vel d’Hiv” Raid

Today, July 16, 2012 marks the 70th anniversary of France's infamous Vel d'Hiv raid in paris. The first raid that included Jewish women and children, over 13,000 Jewish people of Paris were rounded up by French police. The victims were transported to the VĂ©lodrome d’Hiver stadium in terrible summer heat and had little food or water. Most were deported to internment camps elsewhere in France and finally to Auschwitz.

Learn a bit about Marcel Marceau’s heroic role with the French Resistance in this period with the children’s book Marcel Marceau by Gloria Spielman, and for adults, Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay, France Under the Germans by Philippe Burrin, Not the Germans Alone: A Son's Search for the Truth of Vichy by Isaac Levendel, and The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews by Susan Zuccotti.

From Marcel Marceau: One day Marcel's cousin Georges, a leader of the Resistance, asked Marcel to lead a group of Jewish children to the Swiss border. It was a dangerous trip. Marcel was scared, but he hid his fear as he guided the children across the border into Switzerland and safety. Marcel made the trip several times, often dressing the children as boy scouts pretending to be on their way to camp.

Jul 10, 2012

Marriage Mini Photo-Essay from Tzfat

Kar-Ben author Allison Ofanansky’s books are synonymous with showing and sharing the joys of Jewish life. Each of her books (Sukkot Treasure Hunt, Harvest of Light and What’s the Buzz) offers a photo-essay and narration of a slice of life in Israel.

Sukkot Treasure Hunt tells the story of Allison’s family as they seek out all four species for their Sukkot celebration. As readers watch the family pursue their treasure hunt, they see what makes Israel a special place, and are introduced to the landscape and people of Tzfat. One of these people is Avichi. Recently Allison shared news from her community in Tzfat about Avichi.

Last week, on July 4, Avichi married a lovely young woman named Kirin! Just like the photos in Allison’s books, these wedding pictures are worth a thousand words and offer a glimpse into a wonderful celebration in Tzfat!

Mazel tov to the bride and groom!