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Joey and his little sister Ilana wanted to be happy. Purim is supposed to be a joyous holiday. In fact, the rabbis point to only two things people must do on Purim, read the Megillah, which tells the story of Esther, and be happy. The commandment to be happy on Purim is so important that […]

The wind howled and roared. Michael expected the palm trees to snap any moment as the wind drove the tops of the tall trees over until they nearly touched the ground. The rain slashed across the yard, more rain falling faster and harder than Michael had ever seen before. And to think that only a […]

Imagine having all the toys and games you ever wanted. Your playroom would be like a toy store: filled with trucks and trains and airplanes and ships, Lego and K’nex, Gameboys and Nintendo, every Beanie Baby ever made, Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles and Barbies galore and huge amounts of Playmobil–any toy or game you […]

Naomi was sad. She missed her mommy. Mommy had been gone for more than a week. She was in the hospital. Naomi’s father took her and her little brother to see their mommy almost every day, but it wasn’t the same as having her home. Mommy wasn’t really sick at all. The doctors made her […]

Until now, Shimon the pottery maker and his Jewish neighbors could always find a way to sneak around the decrees against Jews that came from the Syrian king. But this latest decree might be impossible to avoid. It forbade Jews to perform the ritual circumcision of newborn sons. Shimon’s wife, Sarah, was pregnant. They already […]

Have you ever seen a miracle, a real miracle that God performed? Rachel had always wondered where all the miracles went. Her teachers in Hebrew school would read the stories from the Torah that were filled with great miracles God had performed — things like splitting the Red Sea or providing manna to eat in […]

I was four years old the first time I met the duck. My dad had taken me to the Tashlich service on Rosh Hashanah. A small group of people from our synagogue had gathered by river. The rabbi said a brief prayer, read a Psalm, and told us to spread out along the riverbank. Everybody […]

The village of Chelm, as everybody knows, is a Jewish shetl somewhere around Poland or maybe it’s around Latvia someplace. The people of Chelm wanted to be good Jews, but sometimes it was hard work. Sometimes the people get confused. Now, there are people today who think that the villagers of Chelm are stupid but […]

‘Today, children, we will continue with our study of cultures around the world by learning about the Native Americans who lived in the western plains” explained the fifth grade teacher. “And,” she continued, “as a special treat, we have a visitor who will show us a real, Native American rain dance. The native tribes used […]

“C’mon! Let’s go. We’re late,” shouted Natalie. It was 9:15 on Saturday morning and things were already crazy, as usual. David, her nine-year old, was supposed to be at baseball practice 15 minutes ago but couldn’t find one of his sneakers. Sarah, the toddler, was making a mess of her breakfast all over the kitchen. […]

The stranger immediately stood out among the regulars at morning minyan, a daily Jewish prayer service. He was tall, young, and athletic. He carried a guitar and a backpack. He stashed his guitar in the corner, pulled tefillin out of his backpack, and joined right in. Since this was a Thursday, the minyan service included […]

The village of Chelm is well known for the unusual ways its people think and the sometimes silly things that result. We’ve all probably heard stories of Chelm and its people, called Chelmites. Chelm is a Jewish village, a shtetl, located in the countryside of Poland, or maybe it’s Lithuania or Latvia or even Russia. […]

“Are you all right, Zadie?” Dinah asked her grandfather. Zadie seemed to be staring off into space. Dinah was worried. Zadie had been sick, and now he couldn’t be left alone. That’s why she was there. Bubbie, her grandmother, had to go out of the house for a few hours, so Dinah came over to […]

Robert and his friend Kevin were so busy playing in the basement that they didn’t realize how hungry they were until Kevin’s mother called them upstairs for a snack. Kevin’s mom seemed really nice. “I heated up some pizza for you boys,” she called. The boys raced up the stairs to the kitchen. The pizza […]

The ninth day of Av, Tish’ah Be’av, is considered the saddest day of the Jewish year. It is said that on that day the spies returned from Canaan with their discouraging reports about a land of giants that the Jews could not conquer, showing their lack of faith in God. It was also on said […]

Mark knew he was really in trouble this time, more trouble, far more trouble, than he ever wanted. He had been getting into bigger and bigger trouble all year long without even really thinking about it. He just did things that got him into trouble, things he didn’t even particularly want to do. It all […]

Marty knew he should be thinking about his father and his family, but all he could think about were himself and hockey camp. His father had been hurt last summer in an accident and hadn’t been able to work since then. He could barely move around the house, and then only with the help of […]

The two girls were too busy with the work their mom had given them in the yard to notice the figure approaching. Although they were only 11 years old, they were expected to help out taking care of the crops and the animals. They lived on a small farm in Canaan. The work was very […]

Sarah didn’t want to go to school. Ordinarily she loved school; well, she loved her old school, with all her friends. But on Friday her family moved to a new city. She didn’t want to go, but her dad had started a new job. She had no choice. Today her mom would take her to […]

The first Seder had been awful. Edward didn’t like matzah and he said so. “This stuff is like cardboard. Do we really have to eat this junk all week?” He thought the whole idea of a Seder, the special Passover meal, was stupid, all the ritual this and symbolic that. The Four Questions that children […]

Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day in the counting of the Omer, started as a celebration in a time of great despair throughout all of Israel. In Rabbi Akiva’s day, a terrible plague swept Israel. Thousands died. The people were desperately afraid. They thought the plague would never end and they despaired. But on Lag B’Omer, […]

It was a sad scene at the Kaplan home in the days leading up to Halloween. The gloom, however, had nothing to do with ghouls and goblins. Rather, the problem had to do with Shabbat. Now, you might ask, what does Halloween have to do with Shabbat? Absolutely nothing, of course, at least usually. But […]

Joey and his little sister Ilana wanted to be happy. Purim is supposed to be a joyous holiday. In fact, the rabbis point to only two things people must do on Purim, read the Megillah, which tells the story of Esther, and be happy. The commandment to be happy on Purim is so important that […]