Jewish Biographies for Children:


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Extraordinary Jewish Americans
Brief biographical sketches of 60 prominent Jewish Americans from the fields of science, business, sports, politics and law, and arts and entertainment. The arrangement is chronological by birth date from Haym Solomon (1740) to Jerry Seinfeld (1954) with insertions of three topical sections: "The Jews Who Created Hollywood," "Jewish Gangsters," and "Jewish Americans and the Civil Rights Movement." Excellent-quality black-and-white photographs appear throughout. An annotated appendix cites "124 Other Extraordinary Jewish Americans." There is an extensive name and word index and a very good listing for further information arranged by age level that includes online sites, organizations, and films and videos.

Description from School Library Journal

Jewish Sports Stars: Athletic Heroes Past and Present

By David J. Goldman
Discover the achievements of Jewish athletes from "Hammerin' Hank" Greenberg, one of the greatest homerun hitters in history, to the professional wrestling phenomenon, Goldberg. Teeming with facts, statistics, and historical anecdotes, athletes from the entire spectrum of popular sports are featured.

Description from Publisher

This book features a collection of mini-biographies about Jewish professional athletes from Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax to Sasha Cohen and Mark Spitz. Each biography emphasizes the athletic accomplishments. Whenever possible, David Goldman tried to include information on the impact of Judaism on the subject's life (such as Shawn Green's participation in a Jewish Big Brother program and Kerri Strug's role as the US team captain in the Maccabiah Games in Israel).

Lori's Description

In the Promised Land: Lives of Jewish Americans

By Doreen Rappaport
Rappaport presents an eclectic group of Jewish Americans whose lives show what has been achieved in "the promised land." Biographies of one page (the rest of the spread is taken up with art) have a you-are-there feeling: "Ten thousand people were jammed together near the Mississippi River for a free performance" begins the introduction to Harry Houdini, for instance. There's a good mix of well- and lesser-known people here, including Asser Levy, who fought against anti-Jewish laws put into place by New Amsterdam's Peter Stuyvesant; Jacob Davis, who helped invent blue jeans; and Steven Spielberg. Although the brevity of the profiles leads to gaps (readers will need to extrapolate the exact year of Olympic gold-medalist Lillian Copeland's win), and there are some awkward transitions, children will come away with an idea of how Jews and the U.S. have benefited one another. The watercolor art is attractive and adds flavor to the biographies. A short reading list and lists of Web sites and selected resources are appended. Refer more proficient readers to Susan Goldman Rubin's L'Chaim

Description from Booklist

L'Chaim!: To Jewish Life in America: Celebrating from 1654 Until Today

By Susan Goldman Rubin
In 1654, the first Jews arrived in New Amsterdam—later to become New York City—as refugees from the Inquisition in Brazil, and the 350th anniversary of the arrival of Jews in the United States is being marked with celebrations and books in 2004. This volume is less ambitious than the similar From Haven to Home, but it’s more affordably priced and it’s handsomely illustrated with photos and ritual objects from the collection of the venerable Jewish Museum in New York City. Rubin, a writer of notable books for children (Searching for Anne Frank; Margaret Bourke-White), makes history personal by focusing on individuals and families—some well known, some not—who exemplify the wide-ranging experiences of Jews in America: Haym Solomon and Abraham Cohen supported the American Revolution; Joseph Jonas, the first Jew to settle in Cincinnati, represents the move west; Rose Schneiderman, pictured at her sewing machine, is one of the host of immigrants who worked in the oppressive garment factories. Works by artists Ben Shahn, Jacob Epstein and George Segal illuminate the history and culture of Jewish America; a Yiddish patriotic poster supporting WWI shows how Jews identified with the American cause. So intertwined have "Jewish" and "American" become in many Jews’ minds that one historian, Shalom Goldman, of Emory University says, "I grew up thinking that Thanksgiving was somehow a Jewish holiday…" Anyone who identifies with that statement will take pleasure in this volume.

Description from Publishers Weekly

Women of Valor :
Stories of Great Jewish Women Who Helped Shape the Twentieth Century
Women Of Valor is a compendium of stories of eight great Jewish women, each of whom, with their individual courage and accomplishment, helped to shape the world of the 20th Century. Here readers will find the courage of a young seamstress who built Jewish trade unions on the Lower East Side; the determination of a 70 year old Zionist pioneer who played a crucial role in the resettlement of Palestine and the birth of the State of Israel; the bravery of a ghetto fighter who defied Nazi oppression and genocide; the tenacity of an actress who revived Yiddish theater from the ruins of war; the forbearance of a Soviet "refusenik" who cared for prisoners of the Communist regime; the candor of a community leader who persuaded the American and Soviet presidents to change their public policies toward world Jewry; the wisdom of a teacher who taught Torah to the whole world; and the confidence of an athlete who revived Israel's pride by winning Israel's first Olympic medal. Each chapter is the life story of an otherwise ordinary woman set against the backdrop of the most important moments in Jewish history, culture, and achievement of the modern world. Women Of Valor is highly recommended for Judaic studies, women's studies, and contemporary history reading lists.

Description from Midwest Book Review
Remarkable Jewish Women
Remarkable Jewish Women:
Rebels, Rabbis, and Other Women from Biblical Times to the Present
This updated, expanded, and more user-friendly version of the authors' Written Out of History (Bloch, 1978; o.p.) contains over 80 brief biographies, chronologically arranged. Introductory and background material is provided for each period. Coverage is impressively wide-ranging. Although some figures do not receive full entries, they are mentioned in other entries and listed in the index. Some of the subjects will be well known to readers familiar with Jewish history: Gluckel of Hameln, Dona Gracia Nasi, Rebecca Gratz, Hannah Szenes, Golda Meir, and Betty Friedan. Other entries introduce important but neglected personalities. Several heroines of the Holocaust are profiled. A major theme is women's role in religion. The handsome illustrations include numerous black-and-white photos from various archives and private collections, making this edition more accessible and visually appealing. This update highlights more current figures, placing particular emphasis on female rabbis and Talmudic scholars.

From School Library Journal

Jewish Heroes, Jewish Values: Living Mitzvot in Today's World

By Barry L. Schwartz
What makes a Jewish hero?

Spanning the worlds of sports, science, film, and politics, Jewish Heroes, Jewish Values introduces the Jewish heroes of yesterday and today to those of tomorrow. Students discover how to live Jewish values by reliving some of the most dramatic moments of the twentieth century:
  • Sandy Koufax sits out Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur (Klal Yisrael/Jewish Solidarity)
  • Golda Meir visits the Jews of Communist Russia (Tzionut/Zionism)
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel marches for civil rights with Martin Luther King, Jr. (Tikkun Olam/Healing the World)
  • Hannah Senesh leads a daring rescue mission in Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia (Ometz Lev/Courage)
  • Natan and Avital Sharansky fight for religious freedom (Herut/Freedom)
  • Anne Frank courageously struggles against overwhelming odds (Tikvah/Hope)
  • Yonatan Netanyahu leads the raid on Entebbe (Pikuah Nefesh/Saving a Life)
  • Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat sign a historic peace treaty (Shalom/Peace)
  • Steven Spielberg authentically recreates Jewish history (Zikaron/Remembrance)
  • And many more
    Eyewitness accounts capture the immediacy of each climactic event, and the "Jewish Heroes Hall of Fame" shows students how they can fulfill core Jewish values in their own lives. Over 70 photographs illustrate these inspiring portraits of men and women whose commitment to Jewish ideals have made them legends--and heroes.

    Description from Publisher

  • Blessed Is the Daughter

    By Carolyn Starman Hessel
    The inspiring story of Jewish women in all lands, from Biblical days to our own time. Their courage, their devotion, their deeds of service and dedication, in heroic action and in the practice of everyday Jewish life. This book offers guidance and insights out of the entire span of Jewish history and tradition, from our Mother Sarah to the great Jewish women of the twentieth century. In simple yet moving words, and in beautiful images, this beloved book, now in its eighth revised edition, continues to inform and delight new generations of Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation-age young women and their families.

    Description from Publisher

    From the Matriarchs to Glueckel of Hameln, from Henrietta Szold to Hannah Szenes, from Golda Meir to Bella Abzug and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, [Blessed Is the Daughter] is a survey of Jewish women "in all lands, from biblical times to our own." The book is organized into 20 themed chapters, featuring editorial commentary, along with vignettes of dozens of Jewish women who made important contributions to their people and to the world at large. There are black and white photos or illustrations to accompany most of the entries. The book is appropriate for middle schoolers and up. With its broad survey of Jewish history, focusing on the contributions of Jewish women, it will make an excellent Chanukah or Bat Mitzvah gift for young Jewish women who may someday be inspired by these women to make important contributions of their own to Jewish life.

    Description from The Ohio Jewish Chronicle

    Links in the Chain :
    Shapers of the Jewish Tradition

    (Oxford Profiles)
    The Jews have a long, interesting history that has been shaped by many fascinating people. These people have been scholars, judges, soldiers, and politicians who have shaped Jewish values and philosophy, kept the religion and culture alive during perilous times, and created the modern state of Israel. This book, part of the publisher's Oxford Profiles series, presents biographies of 41 leaders from different historical periods and explains their contributions to Jewish tradition.

    The book is divided into three sections. "Laying the Foundations" covers postbiblical ancient times through the Middle Ages; "Shapers of Modern Judaism" includes the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries; and "Shapers of the Jewish State" deals with the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The last section covers only people instrumental in forming the state of Israel. The first two parts include leaders from all over the world. The Baal Shem Tov, Martin Buber, Theodore Herzl, Hillel, Isaac Luria, Maimonides, Moses Mendelssohn, Yitzchak Rabin, and Chaim Weitzman are among those found in this volume. Although men predominate, Beruriah, Rebecca Gratz, Golda Meir, Lily Montagu, Gracia Mendes Nasi, and Henrietta Szold are included.

    Each section begins with a historical overview. The individual biographies, around five pages long, appear in chronological order. They are illustrated with portraits and artifacts. Sidebars summarize the key points such as birth and death dates, education, and accomplishments. A bibliography, generally listing three or four titles, appears at the end of each article. A glossary, a chronology, and a general bibliography complete this work. Although written for middle-school students, this book can be used and appreciated by older students and adults. It is easier to read than the Encyclopedia Judaica (Keter, 1972) and provides more information on the individuals it covers than The Encyclopedia of Judaism (Macmillan, 1989). Links in the Chain places the biographies within a historical context so that readers understand the importance of the subjects' contributions to Jewish cultural development. This source is useful for school, public, and synagogue libraries.

    Description from Booklist

    Great Jews in Sports
    Intriguing portraits of the greatest Jewish sports figures of the past two centuries. Among the outstanding Jewish athletes featured are Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz, Brooklyn Dodger ace Sandy Koufax, and football star quarterback Sid Luckman. Features special sections on the Maccabiah Games and Israeli sports figures plus a complete listing of the members of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Israel. With black-and-white photographs.

    Description from Publisher

    Jewish Heroes & Heroines of America:
    150 True Stories of American Jewish Heroism
    There are 150 action stories and illustrations in this book depicting the contributions and sacrifices of Jews to defend and build a better America, from colonial times to the present, in peace and in war.

    Description from Publisher

    Jews in Sports
    In the tradition of the humorous Uh! Oh! series, where finding the hidden objects and the Uh! Oh! character in trouble creates a world of enjoyment for kids of all ages, Janet Zwebner has designed a whole new set of riotous illustrations featurning every major sport event including the Olympics. Joe Hoffman the International Sports Editor for the Jerusalem Post records the historical and practical contributions Jews have made in the field of sports, including 7-time Olympic Gold winner Mark Spitz, baseball great, Sany Koufax and others.

    Description from Publisher

    Great Jewish Thinkers: Their Lives and Work

    By Naomi E. Pasachoff
    An introduction to Jewish thinking anyone can read. This unique volume mixes biography, history, and philosophy, to present the lives and work of 16 seminal Jewish thinkers including Maimonides, Isaac Luria, the Baal Shem Tov, Theodor Herzl, Leo Baeck, Abraham Isaac Kook, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Mordecai Kaplan.

    A concluding chapter presents current trends in Jewish thought, with contributions from contemporary figures including Eugene Borowitz, Cynthia Ozick, Rachel Adler, Judith Plaskow, Elie Wiesel, and many others.

    Description from Publisher

    Na'ar Hayisi:
    I Was a Child

    By Aidel Wajngort
    This collection of 42 short stories is a treasure-trove of anecdotes about our Sages when they were young. These unique tales show that our Sages were already distinguished even before they became great leaders.

    Includes stories about the Maggid of Mehzrich, the Vilna Gaon, Rav Simcha Bunem of Peshischa, Rav Elchanan Wasserman, and many others.

    Description from Publisher

    Jews Who Rock

    By Guy Oseary and Ben Stiller (Introduction)
    Jewish achievement in the sciences? Celebrated. Jews in literature? Lionized. But until now, there's been no record of the massive contributions of Jews in Rock n' Roll. Jews Who Rock features 100 top Jewish rockers, from Bob Dylan to Adam Horowitz, Courtney Love (yes, she's half Jewish) to John Zorn, with a concise page of essential data and a biography of each one.

    "People who are into our music have mentioned to me that knowing we are Jewish has helped them feel more comfortable in their love of hip hop and sometimes even more comfortable and reassured in their own identity. If someone reads Jews Who Rock and feels empowered to make music or be creative because they identify with our being Jewish, that to me is a very positive thing." —Beastie Boy Mike D.

    Author Biography: Guy Oseary is one of the hottest executives in the music business. He started working with Madonna when he was just seventeen, and is now her partner at Maverick Records. He lives in Los Angeles, and is definitely a Jew who rocks.

    Description from Publisher

    Includes biographies of Barry Manilow, Gene Simmons, Randy Newman, Mark Knopfler, Paul Simon, Lisa Loeb, Billy Joel, Dylan, Carole King, Kenny G (Gorelick), The Beastie Boys, and Phranc

    Stories for Shauli

    By Rabbi Aaron Zakkai
    We think of our great Torah scholars as elderly, wise, and learned men, but tend to forget that they were once children too. In this collection of stories, the author taskes us into the early years of the lives of some of our greatest Sages, showing us their childhood, their trials and tribulations, and the seeds of greatness. This is an inspiring book that will remind us that it is possible to reach great heights from humble beginnings.

    Description from Publisher

    The Mystery of Being Jewish

    By Molly Cone
    This book depicts how Judaism has influenced the lives of many famous Jews such as Theodor Herzl, Golda Meir, Norman Lear, and Yaacov Agam. Molly Cone explores the attributes of living as a Jew in the modern world.

    Description from Publisher

    Great Jewish Thinkers: Their Lives and Work

    By Naomi E. Pasachoff
    An introduction to Jewish thinking anyone can read. This unique volume mixes biography, history, and philosophy, to present the lives and work of 16 seminal Jewish thinkers including Maimonides, Isaac Luria, the Baal Shem Tov, Theodor Herzl, Leo Baeck, Abraham Isaac Kook, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Mordecai Kaplan.

    A concluding chapter presents current trends in Jewish thought, with contributions from contemporary figures including Eugene Borowitz, Cynthia Ozick, Rachel Adler, Judith Plaskow, Elie Wiesel, and many others.

    Description from Publisher

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