Talking Jewish Picture Books with Erica Perl

Photo from IG Live on May 20, 2020

Thank you to the prolific, thoughtful, wise Erica Perl for sharing her work and vision in honor of Jewish American Heritage Month. Here are some highlights:
▪️ A brilliant categorization of influential Jewish books from her childhood, including those involving “Jew-ish” themes (e.g. Ira Sleeps Over), immigration / NYC (e.g. The Carp in the Bathtub), the old country (e.g. Yata and the Goat) and contemporary stories (e.g. anything Judy Bloom)
▪️ How her writing is informed by experiences growing up without many others Jews, a sense of being “other” as well as a desire to connect to the past while staying rooted firmly in the present
▪️ How Chelm, a mythical village of fools, felt not too dissimilar from living in D.C. during 2020…
▪️ Why there should be a grassroots movement around the 9th night of Hanukkah, a way to celebrate the friends, neighbors and completel strangers who support us in countless ways (just like the menorah’s shamash)
▪️ Why calling Jewish stories “niche” is antiquated, as well as the need for more diverse Jewish stories, biographies and beyond that include a wider set of experiences and identities
▪️ Being Jewish as a source of pride and fear, and how experiences of antisemitism can inadvertently bolster us to recognize and stand up against persecution of other religious minority groups

Thank you for sharing your experiences and wisdom, Erica. And let it be known: I’ll be pounding the pavement to support The Ninth Night of Hanukkah as a newfound celebration and go-to book on the shelf! I hope to see y’all tomorrow when I connect with @laurelsnyder at 7:30am PST, which will be the last talk in the series.

Books referenced:
THE NINTH NIGHT OF HANUKKAH by Erica, illustrated by @shaharkober
WHEN CARROT MET COOKIE by Erica, illustrated by @jonathanfenske

(Conversation held on May 20, 2020 on IG Live @carolinepritchardwrites)

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