Written by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky
As an educator, I sought to create a group of stories that would best be classified as “edutainment.” In these stories I wanted to both provide age-appropriate Jewish education while also engaging the listener. The content in these stories also provides ample opportunity for things to be discussed between the child and the adult (or older child) who may also be listening along. What makes such writing challenging is the taking of difficult concepts and translating them into the vocabulary of young children whose abstract thinking abilities are yet to be fully formed. Moreover, the writing requires word pictures to be drawn by each line or few lines. Thus, found in these stories are theological concepts, holiday stories and value-constructs—all translated into the idiom of the young listener.
These stories also represent an experiment. We know that parents, teachers and caregivers read to children from books. It is an important tactile experience, especially as children handle the books themselves. We also know that there is a growing reliance on video technology in both formal and informal education. We are trying to ascertain the extent to which young children will positively respond to books being read to them—in a real voice—through the technological medium of the internet. This is particularly important to me, as someone who has been working over the last 20 years primarily with individuals and families not engaged by or affiliated with the organized Jewish community. These stories have the potential to reach beyond the school, into the home and heart of the child.
Children can either read these stories or have the stories read to them. Sign up to Jigzi for free access to the Jewish Stories for Children by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky.