eSource guides are tools for educators--parents or teachers--for helping children understand selected
Kar-Ben books. These guides include historical context, definitions, pre- and post- reading questions,
plus ideas for projects and activities. Visit this page often or bookmark it,
as our library of eSources continues to grow.

Holidays

Katy's favorite holiday is Rosh Hashanah, when she gets to pick apples and make applesauce with her mother. But what happens when the tradition is interrupted by the early arrival of her new baby cousin? A situation to which every kid can relate, this is a story about what happens when a child realizes she's not always the center of the universe and that family priorities must sometimes change.


It’s Tu B’Shevat—Jewish Arbor Day—and a diverse group of children work together to plant a tree. After digging a hole, placing the tree, filling the hole with dirt, patting the ground, and spraying the garden hose, the children celebrate by wishing the tree a happy birthday, and then look forward to when it blossoms on Tu B’Shevat the following year.




A little apple tree in a forest of oaks begs God for stars like those glimmering on the branches of the great oak trees beside her. As the seasons pass, she learns to appreciate her own gifts and realizes that it s possible to find a star in each of us.





It's almost Hanukkah and the dreidel-maker's shop is busy. But all is not well for the four Hebrew letters that will soon go on the wooden tops. The Heys, the Nuns, and the Shins are jealous of everyone's favorite letter, the Gimel. They decide to hide the Gimels so that the dreidel-maker can't use them. But then the other letters learn that the Hanukkah story wouldn't be complete without the Gimels! Is it too late for the missing letters to be found?
The Missing Letters eSource Guide



Nate loves aliens and he really wants to wear an alien costume for Purim, but his friends are all dressing as superheroes and he wants to fit in. What will he do? With the help of his two dads he makes a surprising decision.





Holocaust

Anne Frank’s diary is a gift to the world because of Miep Geis. One of the protectors of the Frank family, Miep recovered the diary after the family was discovered by Nazis, and then returned it to Otto Frank after World War II. Displaced from her own home as a child during World War I, Miep had great empathy for Anne, and she found ways—like talking about Hollywood gossip and fashion trends—to engage her. The story of their relationship—and the impending danger to the family in hiding—unfolds in this unique perspective of Anne Frank’s widely known story.


A neighborhood cat observes the changes in German and Jewish families in Berlin during the period leading up to Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. This cat's-eye view introduces the Holocaust to children in a gentle way that can open discussion of this period.




Follow the incredible journey of a small Torah scroll from a Dutch rabbi to a Bar Mitzvah boy during the Holocaust and finally to Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut, who died on space shuttle Columbia.






From the age of five, Marcel Marceau knew he wanted to be a silent actor, just like Charlie Chaplin. When World War II intervened, he joined the resistance, helping to get young Jews to safety during this dangerous time. But Marcel never forgot his dream of being a mime artist and entertaining the world.





In A Scarf for Keiko, it's 1942 in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, where Jewish American and Japanese American families like Sam’s and Keiko’s were neighbors. At school, their class is knitting socks for soldiers. Sam is a terrible knitter and Keiko is a good knitter, but some kids at school don't want anything to do with Keiko because the Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor and anti-Japanese feelings are running high. Sam knows he should stand up for what’s right, just like his older brother who is fighting the Nazis in Europe. So when Keiko's family is forced to move to a camp for Japanese Americans, Sam finds a way to demonstrate his friendship for her.

According to legend, a group of Jewish families survived the Holocaust by hiding out for months in the 77 miles of caves in Ukraine known as Priest's Grotto. Cavers Taylor and Nicola chronicle their trip to explore the caves and uncover the story of the survivors.




An introductory guide to Kabbalah, the secret world of Jewish mysticsm, for young readers, who will learn that it's not just about the red string.










At a middle school in a small, all white, all Protestant town in Tennessee, a special after-school class was started to teach the kids about the Holocaust, and the importance of tolerance. The students had a hard time imagining what six million was (the number of Jews the Nazis killed), so they decided to collect six million paperclips, a symbol used by the Norwegians to show solidarity with their Jewish neighbors during World War II. German journalists Dagmar and Peter Schroeder, whose involvement brought the project international attention, tell the dramatic story of how the Paper Clip Project grew, culminating in the creation of The Children's Holocaust Memorial.


In The Whispering Town it is 1943 in Nazi-occupied Denmark. Anett and her parents are hiding a Jewish woman and her son, Carl, in their cellar until a fishing boat can take them across the sound to safety in neutral Sweden. With the help of the baker, the librarian, the farmer, and her neighbors, Anett keeps Carl and his mother safe even as Nazi soldiers search her street for hidden Jews. With the Nazis closing in, and worried about Carl s safety, Anett thinks of a clever and unusual plan to get Carl and his mother safely to the harbor on a cloudy night without the moon to guide them. Based on a true story.


One Kind Act

Even at the age of nine, little Golda Meir was known for being a leader. As the president of the American Young Sisters Society, she organizes her friends to raise money to buy textbooks for immigrant classmates. A glimpse at the early life of Israel s first female Prime Minister, who was born in Russia and grew up in Milwaukee, this story is based on a true episode in the early life of Golda Meir.




In the years between WWI and WWII, young Henryk Goldszmidt dreamed of creating a better world for children. As an adult, using the pen name Janusz Korczak, he became a writer, doctor, and an enlightened leader in the field of education, unaware to what use his skills were destined to be put. Dr. Korczak established a Jewish orphanage in Warsaw where he introduced the world to his progressive ideas in child development and children s rights. When the Nazis occupy Warsaw, the orphanage is moved to the ghetto, and when the 200 children in his care are deported, Dr. Korczak famously refuses to be saved, marching with his charges to the train that will take them to their deaths. This biography of Janusz Korczak is a chapter book for elementary school readers and has full color illustrations

Jewish philanthropist Judah Touro sets out from Boston to New Orleans in 1801, dreaming of becoming a successful shopkeeper. With his skill in business, he earns a great fortune. But after he is injured on the battlefield in the War of 1812, Judah begins to see the world through new eyes. He recognizes that his true calling may be to help others. Grateful and humble, Judah begins to perform philanthropic deeds, large and small—all in secret.



Jenny loves to jump. But when jumping gets her in trouble, she decides to retire her pogo stick. Then her school decides to hold a fundraising fair, and she discovers that her skill can be used for a good cause.





In Mitzvah Pizza, every week Missy and her father do something special together. But one day, she and her dad stop for pizza, and Missy discovers a special way to do a mitzvah. Based on a true story of a pizza shop in Philadelphia (described in the back matter), this story explores the true meaning of tzedakah—giving to others while not making them feel as if they've been helped.


Rosie can't wait to start doing good deeds to save the world. But as she helps the people in her neighborhood, she is soon so busy saving the world that she doesn't have time for her own family! It turns out, though, that the greatest acts of tikkun olam—repairing the world—start in her own home.



It's 1937, and Marian Anderson is one of the most famous singers in America. But after she gives a performance for an all-white audience, she learns that the nearby hotel is closed to African Americans. She doesn't know where she'll stay for the night.
Until the famous scientist Albert Einstein invites her to stay at his house. Marian, who endures constant discrimination as a Black performer, learns that Albert faced prejudice as a Jew in Germany. She discovers their shared passion for music—and their shared hopes for a more just world.

Other

In 1996, on her 15th birthday, Bat-Chen Shahak was killed by a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Center. But the gifted teenager left behind a rich legacy of diaries, letters, poems and drawings. Following her death, her parents gathered her writings and created The Bat-Chen Diaries ; this is the first English translation of her work.




Anna is excited to be the flower girl at her aunt s wedding, but that morning she wakes up and ... achoo! Don t sneeze at the wedding! everyone warns her, but will their remedies work?





Motti knows that war is coming. Israel is only nineteen years old—the same age as Motti's brave older brother, Gideonand the tiny country is surrounded by enemies. It's only a matter of time before Egypt, Jordan and Syria attack. Motti wishes he could join the Israeli army like Gideon and be a hero. But when his best friend's family flees the country and his brother goes off to fight, Motti realizes this war isn't a game. His family is in danger, and Israel's very survival is at stake. But hope comes to Motti in unexpected forms. In the kind Ethiopian priest who lives nearby. In his grouchy neighbor, old Mrs. Friedburg. In the young Germans who come to offer help. In his father's childhood friend, a Jordanian man who harbors none of the hate Motti expects.

Noah is a would-be filmmaker who has trouble making friends and understanding people. Noah thinks that this summer, the best place for him is the David Lynch Film Camp, to work on his film “opus,” and not his parents’ choice, Camp Challah, to work on his bar mitzvah project. But before camp starts, Noah’s grandfather, “Pops” takes him aside, along with Simon, a new arrival but not quite friend, and tells them both “It’s up to you to save the world!” Is Pops just confused, or is he onto something? When a pigeon flies into camp carrying mysterious messages, Noah and Simon wonder if maybe they do really have to save the world.

This graphic novel biography is the story of Soviet Jewry “refusenik” and human rights activist Anatoly “Natan” Sharansky. Born in 1948 to a Jewish family in Ukraine, at that time part of the Soviet Union, he was arrested as a young man and later imprisoned for wanting to leave the Soviet Union and go to Israel. His struggle became the struggle of all Soviet Jews who wished to leave. With the help of his wife, many Jewish activists, and world leaders, he eventually succeeded in immigrating to Israel, paving the way for the release of other Soviet Jews who wished to live in freedom.

Edith Westerfeld, an 89-year-old Holocaust refugee, wonders if the memory of the Nazis murdering her parents, along with millions of other victims, will outlive the survivors. Now, 76 years after Edith’s parents saved their daughter’s life by sending her, alone and terrified, to America she returns to the small German town where her family had lived for hundreds of years.



Daniel likes to do things backwards and upside down. He walks on his hands, walks backwards, and eats cereal for dinner. His teacher reminds him that when he visits the Prime Minister's office, he must be on his best behavior. But when something unexpected happens, can Daniel resist his urge to do a headstand? Uh oh! What would the Prime Minister say?




Raised a Catholic, when 12-year-old Miguel suddenly learns that his ancestors were Jewish, his world seems to turn upside down. Rushing from the house, he becomes lost in the desert. Captured by a band of Apaches, after a daring escape he meets Rushing Cloud, a Tohono O’odham youth who is running away from a mission school. As the boys travel toward home, Miguel learns to survive in the desert, but more importantly, he begins to see his heritage in a new light.



On the ship that brought her from Nazi Germany to America, young Edith Westerfeld met Gerda Katz. Both 12-year-old girls were traveling alone and immediately became best friends. Unfortunately, the two unaccompanied minors lost touch after their arrival in 1938.
Decades later, after a northern Illinois middle-school class read Is It Night or Day?, a historical novel that captures the two girls’ friendship, the students were so moved by the story that they made it a class project to reunite the two women.

A child and her mother take a walk in the forest near Jerusalem, gazing at their reflections in a rippling pond and appreciating their time together.

Inspired by the poem “The Pond” by Hayim Nahman Bialik.




For twelve-year-old Rosetta Wolfson, the war in Europe seems very far off from her home in Canada. Then Mr. Schwartzberg comes to tea and asks Rosetta's parents if they will take in a young war refugee. Isaac joins the family and becomes a ready-made brother to Rosetta and her two sisters.
Isaac's arrival brings change. Her best friend's handsome brother doesn't seem as attractive after he reveals himself as anti-Semitic, and Rosetta begins to suspect her friend may agree with him. As Rosetta and Isaac become friends and he shares his story with her, she helps him learn the fate of other family members and helps him shape a promising future in his new country.

After a pogrom forces Batya's Russian Jewish family to leave their home and make the journey to America, Batya hopes her new life will offer her a chance to become a woodcarver like her beloved father. But while many things in America are different from the world of her shtetl, one thing seems to be the same: only boys can be woodcarvers. Still, Batya is determined to learn. With the same perseverance that helped her family survive and start over in an unfamiliar land, Batya sets out to carve a place for herself.




Shabbat

Young, awkward, messy Lila the koala wants to help her family get ready for Shabbat dinner. Her plan is to bake her own loaf of challah—but each time she tries, the challah comes out wrong. What's the secret to making the best koala challah ever?





After Papa loses his job during the Depression, Hannah s family moves to rural Minnesota, where she is the only Jewish child in her class. When her teacher tries to arrange carpools for a Saturday class picnic, Hannah is upset. Her Jewish family is observant, and she knows she cannot ride on the Sabbath. What will she do? A lovely story of friendship and community.






Virtual Education Sessions

The lesson plans below were developed by Melissa Moss, the Jewish Literacy Project Coordinator of the JCCSF,
and kindly shared with us so that Kar-Ben readers everywhere can benefit from them.
We hope you enjoy using them in your classroom!
 
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