Category Archives: Books

Books I Love – Complete Guide to Bible Journaling

I’ve always believed that every person has a spiritual side. Some of us feel comfortable identifying with a particular religion, but there are many more who reject traditional methods of observance. In the Jewish community, it seems like people are disengaging left and right, in search of alternate ways to practice their faith.

If you hate performing rituals, never attend temple, and don’t pray on a regular basis, but still yearn to grow spiritually, The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling should be on your book shelf.

By focusing on art, which is something most ladies enjoy, it’s easy to explore the Bible in a less structured way. As someone who already has a strong faith, I liked reading the pages first, then going back and creating. For my sister, who is not religious at all, it was the opposite—she simply enjoyed coloring. Even though we’re on different ends of the spectrum ideologically, we both had fun doodling, taking away different things from the experience.

With over 150 paper designs, 270 colored stickers, and 60 designs printed on translucent vellum, we sure had a lot to choose from! There is so much versatility, too, since the designs can be used like a regular coloring book, traced, used as Bible margin art, or as bookmarks.

The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling is divided into six sections:

  • Getting Started – How to begin and how to choose the best Bible for you
  • Tools and Techniques – 12 different methods, including page prep
  • Artist Profiles –  Shares the individual stories of contributing Bible artists
    Shanna Noel, Karla Dornacher, Valery Sjodin, Sephra Travers, Valerie Wieners-Massie, Rebecca Rios, Tai Bender, Krista Hamrick, Jennifer Rydin, Rebekah Jones and Christina Lowery 
  • Gallery – Showcasing examples out of the Bible, in the Bible, and different styles
  • Resources – Artist websites, various social media groups, & other ways to connect
  • Bonus section – This was my favorite! It’s filled with the tabs, stickers, traceable patterns and more. 

No matter which medium you prefer, this book has it covered: lettering, drawing, coloring, painting, embellishing, stamping, stenciling, and so much more. I don’t have much artistic ability, but I sure know how to go wild with a box of Crayola!

The Complete Guide to Bible Journaling combines faith and creativity into one neat package with lots of appeal.

Books I Love – The Kiddush Ladies

Throughout my life, no matter what I’ve struggled with, I’ve always been blessed with dear friends who comforted and supported me. Most ladies would agree that it’s our female friendships, not our romantic relationships, that truly nurture and sustain us. Because those friendships are so vital, it can be devastating when they sour.

Author Susan Sofayov tackles this heartfelt topic in her new novel, The Kiddush LadiesIt  centers on heroines Becky, Miriam, and Naomi—3 ladies whose shared faith and many years of camaraderie should’ve created an unbreakable bond. As each one endures her own difficulties, their lifelong friendship splinters: Naomi’s husband has left her for a man; Becky’s son wants to marry a Catholic girl; Miriam’s upbringing as an only child leaves her unable to attain the close family connections she craves.

While all of the characters were multi-faceted and believable, Becky’s story was the most interesting to me. Every Jewish mother has a fear (often kept secret) that their child will marry a Christian, that their grandchildren will become Christian, and generations of customs and beliefs will be lost forever. Becky’s intense bewilderment and displeasure at her son’s choice is portrayed very honestly.

While some may find The Kiddush Ladies to be slightly dark reading material, I enjoy “Chic Lit” about imperfect people, thrust into difficult situations not of their choosing, and seeing how they react—rightly or wrongly. This is not an uplifting book, but it will be relatable for most of us who have experienced the unexpected craziness that life has to offer.

In the end, we have to accept others as they are, not how we want them to be. That can be an exceptionally bitter pill to swallow, but nobody ever said friendship was perfect.

Books I Love – Jewish Treasures of the Caribbean

One doesn’t often think “Jewish” when they hear the word “Caribbean,” but Photographer Wyatt Gallery has captured a nearly-extinct world of wonder in his remarkable new book, Jewish Treasures of the Caribbean.

In modern times, the Caribbean is viewed mainly as a vacation and Honeymoon spot, but hundreds of years ago, it was a safe haven for Sephardic Jews fleeing persecution. They established communities in Aruba, Barbados, Curacao, Jamaica, St. Thomas, St. Eustatius, and Suriname, which thrived for centuries and are home to the Western hemisphere’s oldest synagogues and cemeteries.

Thumbing through the colorful pages is a true delight, allowing the reader to journey through time, back to a world filled with brightly painted buildings, ornate gravestones, sand-strewn floors, and candlelit chandeliers.

One of the things that surprised me most was the extravagance on display. Neve Shalom Synagogue in Suriname has eleven Torahs (rare today even in the wealthiest American congregations). The obvious pride and love for Judaism is so touching!

Sadly, modern “progress” has taken over in unexpected ways, demonstrated perfectly in this photo, taken in Curacao: an oil refinery was built adjacent to the Beth Haim Cemetery, corroding many of the stones from pollution.

Without preservation, what’s left of these dwindling communities could disappear forever—a true tragedy. Only five historic synagogues remain left in use, and many of the cemeteries have been damaged or lost as well. 

Should the worst come to pass, when nothing is left standing, Jewish Treasures of the Caribbean will serve as a moving tribute to these extraordinary landmarks, creating a photographic legacy of a little known Jewish experience. This book should be in the collection of every history buff.

The Best Jewish Children’s Books of 2016


Since many of us are still scrambling to choose, buy, and wrap gifts for Hanukkah, Tablet’s list of the best Jewish children’s books of 2016 may come in handy. I Dissent, about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg looks intriguing, especially if you have a young lady to shop for.

At our house, we have always preferred educational toys. It’s nice to include fun and silly stuff, too, but learning gifts are the most important!