Every May the United States observes Jewish American Heritage Month! Celebrations honor the amazing and varied impacts that Jewish people have had on America's past and present.
Here at Diverse BookFinder, we're excited to highlight all the wonderful racial and cultural diversity that exists within the Jewish community.
Did you know?
The Jewish population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse! In 2020, 8% of the Jewish population in the U.S. identified as Hispanic, Black, Asian, An other race, or multiracial and the numbers are even higher among the younger Jewish population. - Pew Research Center
Even with all this diversity, it's still often challenging to find books highlighting the lives of BIPOC Jews.
To that end, we've put together a list of great titles that showcase diverse Jewish representation! As a special treat in honor of all the changes coming to the Diverse BookFinder this fall, we're also highlighting Middle Grade and Young Adult titles as well as our usual Picture Books. Enjoy!
Picture Books on Diverse BookFinder
A Sweet Meeting on Mimouna Night
"A story about a young girl celebrating the Moroccan Jewish holiday of Mimouna with a new Muslim friend. It’s Mimouna — the Moroccan Jewish holiday that marks the end of Passover, and when blessings are given for a year of prosperity and good luck. Miriam wants to help her mother make the sweet moufleta pancakes they always eat at their Mimouna party, but after not eating doughy treats for the week of Passover, they don’t have any flour in the house! So, Miriam’s mother takes her to visit their Muslim neighbors, who share their flour. The women drink tea together, and Miriam makes friends with a young girl named Jasmine. Miriam almost drops the bag of flour when she and Jasmine go to fetch it from the storeroom — but luckily Jasmine is there to catch it! Jasmine and her family then join Miriam’s family and friends to celebrate Mimouna. This sweet story of friendship and shared customs will introduce North American readers to the Mimouna holiday. The book concludes with an author’s note and a recipe for making moufleta, the sweet, paper-thin pancakes featured in the story, so that readers can enjoy, too." -- publisher
Around the Passover Table
"The candles are lit, the seder plate filled, and the matzo stacked high. Join in to read, sing, eat, and observe the holiday. The many steps of a Passover seder are portrayed in this rhyming story. Everyone loves to celebrate Passover with the traditional seder meal. The candles are lit, the seder plate filled, and the matzo stacked high. Join in to read, sing, eat, and observe the holiday. The many steps of a Passover seder are portrayed in this rhyming story." -- publisher
Missy is trying to decide what to buy during her weekly Daddy Day when she meets a new friend and learns she can buy pizza for people who cannot afford a slice. Includes facts about Rosa's Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia.
A moon for Moe and Mo
Moses Feldman and Mohammed Hassan both live on Flatbush Avenue, but when they meet at the grocery store they quickly become best friends, sharing a picnic while their families prepare for the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan.
Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas
A boy is worried that his little sister's climbing will spoil the first night of Hanukkah, when his family combines his father's Jewish traditions with his mother's East Indian cooking
Chicken soup, chicken soup
"Two grandmas. Two delicious recipes. Sophie loves Bubbe's Jewish chicken soup, made with kreplach. She also loves Nai Nai's Chinese chicken soup, with wonton. But don't tell Bubbe and Nai Nai that their soups are the same!"-- Provided by publisher
Now a young man in Israel, watching his brother's Bar Mitzvah, Yosef remembers his own childhood in Ethiopia. Specifically, the dream in which he foresaw the miraculous air rescue of Operation Solomon in 1991, which led to the fulfillment of his own family's dream to live in Israel -- land of their forefathers.
Chik chak Shabbat
Every Saturday in the apartment building, Goldie Simcha welcomes everyone in for her famous cholent and Shabbat meal. What happens when Goldie is feeling too sick on Friday to cook?
Picture Books - Coming Soon to DBF
Tía Fortuna's New Home: A Jewish Cuban Journey by Ruth Behar with illustrations by Devon Holzwarth (2022)
When Estrella's Tía Fortuna has to say goodbye to her longtime Miami apartment building, The Seaway, to move to an assisted living community, Estrella spends the day with her. Tía explains the significance of her most important possessions from both her Cuban and Jewish culture, as they learn to say goodbye together and explore a new beginning for Tía.
A Persian Passover by Etan Basseri with illustrations by Rashin Kheiriyeh (2022)
Ezra and Roza are helping to prepare for their Passover celebration. Ezra is proud to be in charge of bringing his family's flour to the synagogue to be baked into matzah in a traditional wood-burning oven. But when Ezra makes a mistake and the matzah is ruined, what will he and his sister Roza, do?
The Very Best Sukkah: A Story from Uganda by Shoshana Nambi with illustrations by Moran Yogev (2022)
Sukkot is Shoshi's favorite Jewish holiday. She and her brothers love to decorate their sukkah, the hut where her family will celebrate. But who will win the Ugandan Abayudaya community's annual sukkah contest? While only one sukkah can be the best, everybody wins when neighbors work together.
Shoham's Bangle by Sarah Sassoon with illustrations by Noa Kelner (2022)
Shoham wears a golden bangle on her wrist, just like her Nana Aziza. Their bangles jingle when they cook, and glitter in the sun. When Shoham and her family must leave Iraq, they are allowed to take only one suitcase each. They may take no jewelry. Shoham has the important job of carrying Nana’s homemade pita bread, which Nana says they will eat when they get to Israel. But when they finally arrive and it is time to eat, Shoham bites into something hard inside the pita bread.
Daddy, Can You Make Me Tall? by Rona Novick with illustrations by Ana Sebastian (2023)
Shabbat is coming!
I can't reach my shirt.
In this gentle story, two patient parents help an eager young boy join in the preparations for Shabbat by allowing him to do the parts he can and helping him just enough to begin to do the rest.
Two New Years by Richard Ho with illustrations by Lynn Scurfield (2023)
For this multicultural family, inspired by the author's own, two New Years mean twice as much to celebrate! In the fall, Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, offers an opportunity to bake challah, dip apples in honey, and lift voices in song. In the spring, Lunar New Year brings a chance to eat dumplings, watch dragon dances, and release glowing lanterns that light up the sky.
Middle Grade Titles - Coming Soon to DBF
Middle Grade titles are generally published for children aged 8-12.
Chunky Goes to Camp by Yehudi Mercado (2022)
Hudi finally embraced his love of art and comedy, but his class clown antics keep getting him in trouble. After Hudi’s artwork lands him in detention again, his parents decide a change is needed when summer arrives, and they sentence him to four weeks at summer camp.
Hudi is hesitant about Camp Green—a Jewish sleepaway camp in the blazing Texas desert. At least he still has Chunky. Then Hudi meets Pepe, a fellow camper who’s also Latinx, Jewish, and a comedian like Hudi, and who—get this—can also see Chunky! What?! The rest of Hudi’s bunkmates are also a motley crew of misfits. Has Hudi finally found his people?
The Lost Ryū by Emi Watanabe Cohen (2022)
Kohei Fujiwara has never seen a big ryū in real life. Those dragons all disappeared from Japan after World War II, and twenty years later, they've become the stuff of legend. Their smaller cousins, who can fit in your palm, are all that remain. And Kohei loves his ryū, Yuharu, but…
…Kohei has a memory of the big ryū. He knows that's impossible, but still, it's there, in his mind. In it, he can see his grandpa – Ojiisan – gazing up at the big ryū with what looks to Kohei like total and absolute wonder. When Kohei was little, he dreamed he'd go on a grand quest to bring the big ryū back, to get Ojiisan to smile again.
The Button Box written by Bridget Hodder & Fawzia Gilani-Williams with illustrations by Harshad Marathe (2022)
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, creating a legendary Golden Age for Muslims, Jews and Christians?
Wishing Upon the Same Stars by Jacquetta Nammar Feldman (2022)
When twelve-year-old Yasmeen Khoury moves with her family to San Antonio, all she wants to do is fit in. But her classmates in Texas are nothing like her friends in the predominantly Arab neighborhood back in Detroit where she grew up. Almost immediately, Yasmeen feels like the odd girl out, and as she faces middle school mean girls and tries to make new friends, she feels more alone than ever before.
Then Yasmeen meets her neighbor, Ayelet Cohen, a first-generation Israeli American. As the two girls grow closer, Yasmeen is grateful to know someone who understands what it feels like when your parents’ idea of home is half a world away.
Not So Shy by Noa Nimrodi (2023)
Twelve-year-old Shai hates everything about moving to America from Israel.
She's determined to come up with a plan that will get her back home. Maybe she can go back with her grandparents when they come to visit. Or maybe she can win a drawing competition that offers a plane ticket to any destination in the world as the grand prize. Meanwhile she's stuck navigating seventh grade in a language that used to be just a subject in school. As Shai faces antisemitism but also gains support from unexpected sources, she starts to see her new life with different eyes. Maybe home is a place in the heart.
Two Tribes by Emily Bowen Cohen (2023)
Mia is still getting used to living with her mom and stepfather, and to the new role their Jewish identity plays in their home. Feeling out of place at home and at her Jewish day school, Mia finds herself thinking more and more about her Muscogee father, who lives with his new family in Oklahoma. Her mother doesn’t want to talk about him, but Mia can’t help but feel like she’s missing a part of herself without him in her life.
Young Adult Titles - Coming Soon to DBF
Young Adult titles are generally published for children aged 13+
The Ghosts of Rose Hill by R. M. Romero (2022)
Sent to stay with her aunt in Prague and witness the humble life of an artist, Ilana Lopez—a biracial Jewish girl—finds herself torn between her dream of becoming a violinist and her immigrant parents’ desire for her to pursue a more stable career.
When she discovers a forgotten Jewish cemetery behind her aunt’s cottage, she meets the ghost of a kindhearted boy named Benjamin, who died over a century ago. As Ilana restores Benjamin’s grave, he introduces her to the enchanted side of Prague, where ghosts walk the streets and their kisses have warmth.
Ballad & Dagger by Daniel José Older (2022)
Almost sixteen years ago, Mateo Matisse's island homeland disappeared into the sea. Weary and hopeless, the survivors of San Madrigal's sinking escaped to New York.
While the rest of his tight-knit Brooklyn diaspora community dreams of someday finding a way back home, Mateo--now a high school junior and piano prodigy living with his two aunts (one who's alive, the other not so much)--is focused on one thing: getting the attention of locally-grown musical legend Gerval. Mateo finally gets his chance on the night of the Grand Fete, an annual party celebrating the blended culture of pirates, Cuban Santeros, and Sephardic Jews that created San Madrigal all those centuries ago.
See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon (2022)
Barrett Bloom is hoping college will be a fresh start after a messy high school experience. But when school begins on September 21st, everything goes wrong. She’s humiliated by the know-it-all in her physics class, she botches her interview for the college paper, and at a party that night, she accidentally sets a frat on fire. She panics and flees, and when she realizes her roommate locked her out of their dorm, she falls asleep in the common room.
The next morning, Barrett’s perplexed to find herself back in her dorm room bed, no longer smelling of ashes and crushed dreams. It’s September 21st. Again.
Boys of the Beast by Monica Zepeda (2022)
THE ROUTE. Seventeen hundred miles from Portland, Oregon, to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
THE BEAST. Grandma Lupe's 1988 Ford Thunderbird Turbo Coupe.
THE BOYS. Three strangers who also happen to be cousins:
THE END…just might be a new beginning.
A Million Quiet Revolutions by Robin Gow (2022)
For as long as they can remember, Aaron and Oliver have only ever had each other. In a small town with few queer teenagers, let alone young trans men, they've shared milestones like coming out as trans, buying the right binders--and falling for each other.
But just as their relationship has started to blossom, Aaron moves away. Feeling adrift, separated from the one person who understands them, they seek solace in digging deep into the annals of America's past.
Just a Hat by Shanah Khubiar (2023)
It's 1979, and thirteen-year-old Joseph Nissan can't help but notice that small-town Texas has something in common with Revolution-era Iran: an absence of fellow Jews. And in such a small town it seems obvious that a brown kid like him was bound to make friends with Latinos--which is a plus, since his new buds, the Ybarra twins, have his back. But when the Iran hostage crisis, two neighborhood bullies, and the local reverend's beautiful daughter put him in all sorts of danger, Joseph must find new ways to cope at home and at school.
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