When I think back on the Jewish literature of my childhood, one book stands out: The Rabbi and the Twenty-nine Witches. Twenty- some years later, the elementary school students in our congregation held a readers’ choice award competition, and their love of this 1976 classic not only made it a nominee, but the ultimate winner. Now, repeated pleas from across the Jewish community bring this Talmudic tale back into print. Appearing just as it first did 33 years ago, this tale of how one rabbi leads a group of men to rid their town of a nearby coven of witches, with its black, white, and blue watercolor illustrations, is clearly timeless in its appeal. Kids love the subject, and have never encountered some of these characters in Jewish literature before. It is at once refreshing and authentic. The book not only makes a great read-aloud; hearing it compels children to pick it up for a closer look at the details of the illustrations and another read of the story. A must-buy for Jewish collections, as your old copy is probably dogeared and falling apart from all the love it has received over the years. For ages 5 – 10.
Natasha Bergson-Michelson MLIS, is the librarian at the Hirschberg Family Childdren’s Library at Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame, CA. Previously, she was librarian for Niehaus RyanWong, Inc. and the McKEnna Group, both in Silicon Valley. She also writes for the online tutorial Googleguide.com.