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October 5, 2016 7:09 am

Telling Our Children the Story of Russian Jewry

avatar by Ronn Torossian

Email a copy of "Telling Our Children the Story of Russian Jewry" to a friend
Rabbi Avi Weiss. Photo: Facebook.

Rabbi Avi Weiss. Photo: Facebook.

Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld of Ohev Shalom, the oldest Orthodox synagogue in Washington, DC, has written a touching and powerful new children’s book, An Extra Seat.

This easy-to-read picture book tells the story of two children who grew up in Rabbi Avi Weiss’ congregation — the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale — where members were encouraged to protest for the freedom of Russian Jews trapped in the Soviet Union.

I was among them, and remember chanting “Let My People Go” at various rallies, even at a very young age. Under Rabbi Weiss, I was taught that standing up for our people was one of the most important Jewish values. And I wasn’t alone. As the book describes, Jews all over the world protested for Jews in Russia to be able to practice their religion and leave the country freely.

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Rabbi Herzfeld’s book encourages kids to take action against injustice, and to stand up for our people. As the book notes, “All of the Jewish people are one family. Thus we are all responsible to help each other.”

An Extra Seat is a book that belongs in every Jewish home – and all Jewish parents should teach their children its lessons.

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