You Shall Tell Your Children

First Jewish bible for children in Germany for 50 years

According to Jewish tradition, at the age of five children have reached the age for studying the Bible. The first Jewish children’s bible in the German vernacular was published in 1823, and before the Shoa, there was a variety of about 30 Jewish children’s bibles and text books on the German market. However, the last Jewish children’s Bible in German was published in 1964. In April, the publishing house Ariella presented a new one in Berlin. In Erzähl es deinen Kindern, the weekly traditional readings are interwoven with bright illustrations by Israeli artist Darius Gilmont, with Noah’s Ark on the cover of the first volume, Bereshit.

“The whole project started when our kids were about one and three years old,” recalls author Hanna Liss, a professor of Hebrew Bible. “In order to enable them to follow what was read during the synagogue service, we started to translate, or better: transfer the Hebrew text into a German version that seemed to be appropriate for them in terms of vocabulary, syntax etc. We realized that we were producing a text that is read to the children, but read by their parents, and we, thus, tried to allow for the fact that the text should and could address children and their parents, those who are quite familiar with Jewish tradition, and those who are just discovering the experience of being part of it.”

Together with her husband and co-author Bruno Landthaler, she had to deal with the fact that more than twothirds of the Torah encompasses priestly laws describing the ancient past of an elapsed culture. For publisher Myriam Halberstam it was important to provide a translation that speaks to all Jewish denominations, progressive and orthodox alike. Support from the Central Council of Jews in Germany helped make this project financially viable.

Photo Credit: Ariella Verlag, Darius Gilmont

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