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Learn about Jewish history, struggles, and coming-of-age through an enriching curriculum based on Kar-Ben books.

Critically analyze the struggles and issues Jewish people went through in both historical fiction and nonfiction. Identify Jewish values and themes in novels. These lessons are suitable for grades 5 through 8.

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.




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.


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.


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.




 It’s 1928 in Odessa, Texas, and eleven-year-old James is struggling to find his purpose in life and to uncover a family secret. With his father struck dead by lightning and his mother in jail, he is taken in by his grandparents. Treated as a pariah at school, James is taunted as being cursed by his family’s bad luck. But he finds a friend in Paul, a Russian immigrant, who is also treated as an outcast, and together, they battle the school bully. But James's life is turned upside-down yet again when he uncovers a family secret involving his beloved grandmother. His discovery leads him to find the sense of purpose he's been seeking.



 After Jewish fifth-grader Ava and her Muslim best friend Nadeem are called hateful names at school, Ava's Granny Buena rummages in her closet and pulls out a glittering crystal button box. It's packed with buttons that generations of Ava's Sephardic ancestors have cherished. With the help of Granny's mysterious cat Sheba, Ava and Nadeem discover that a button from the button box will take them back in time. Suddenly, they are in ancient Morocco, where Nadeem's ancestor, Prince Abdur Rahman, is running for his life. Can Ava and Nadeem help the prince escape to Spain and fulfill his destiny?



Set in the shadows of the Spanish Inquisition, this is the coming-of-age story of José Alfaro, a young refugee who forms a powerful bond with the mysterious Pirate Captain Toledano. It’s also a dynamic pirate adventure on the high seas, with hand-to-hand combat and ship-to-ship action, and the powerful story of a dark time in history when people took different paths to survive.



Joey Goodman is spending the summer at his grandparents’ struggling hotel in Atlantic City, a tourist destination on the decline. Nobody in Joey’s big Jewish family takes him seriously, so when Joey’s Skee-Ball skills land him an unusual job offer from a local mobster, he’s thrilled to be treated like “one of the guys,” and develops a major crush on an older girl in the process. Eventually disillusioned by the mob’s bravado, and ashamed of his own dishonesty, he recalls words of wisdom from his grandfather that finally resonate. Joey realizes where he really belongs: with his family, who drive him crazy, but where no one fights a battle alone. All it takes to get by is one’s wits…and a little help from one’s brothers.

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