NEW RELEASE: Chipmunk Trouble

May 30, 2019

Does the idea of a 3-day Yom Tov intimidate you? I’m not even referring to all the cooking (and eating!) involved. I’m talking about no structure for the kids for 3 whole days!

We all love Yom Tov, but sometimes the idea of having to find ways to entertain the kids for 3 long afternoons in a row, is kind of…well, intimidating!

If these are your feelings as we approach the 3-day Yom Tov of Shavuos this year, then let me give you a tip, parent to parent: Buy Chipmunk Trouble for your kids, and present it to them on the first day of Yom Tov. You’ll see their boredom vanish (well, at least for the couple hours it’ll take them to read the book!)—and hey, you might even get to sneak in a nap or some reading time for yourself!
Chipmunk Trouble is popular author Rachel Stein’s newest “younger reader” book. The 9 stories included in this volume are all geared to your early-elementary-school-age child, with adorable illustrations scattered throughout to enhance your young reader’s pleasure.

As with all of Rachel Stein’s books, there are wonderful lessons to be learned from each and every story, so you can rest assured that with this book, your child is getting wholesome reading material at its best.

Here’s to hoping you and your children make the most of the 3-day Yom Tov ahead of us! Have a great Yom Tov!

Click here to purchase online.


NEW RELEASE: Now I Know

May 29, 2019

Just in time for Shavuos!

What better occasion than when we received the Torah to work on strengthening our emunah in Hashem?

And with Rabbi Avrohom Katz’s groundbreaking book on emunahNow I Know, you’ll be treated to a first-class learning experience that will educate, clarify, and even entertain you!

It’s not for nothing that this prolific author is the esteemed menahel of Beis Chaya Rochel Seminary in Gateshead, England. See why his students love his classes and the way he simplifies and explains lofty concepts and principles. In Now I Know you, too, can enter his classroom, pull up a seat, and join the animated discussion as you learn how emunah in Hashem is not really “belief” at all, but actually hard-core, genuine knowledge that we can know just as we know that the sky is blue!

Below is an excerpt from this exceptional book.

 

 The New Car

Acquiring a new car is always a pleasure. The look is clean, the lines are smooth, the tires are pristine and firm, and the car’s emblem gives a confident feeling. Although strange at first, the controls become familiar with the passage of time. People’s admiring comments add to the appreciation. “Nice car you’ve got there”; “Tis’chadesh on your new car!”; “Fabulous car, that one…” As new features are discovered – climate control, assisted parking, keyless locking, lane-keeping aid, cruise control – so does the recognition of the level of design and planning that has produced this vehicle.

The seats are comfortable – soft leather, and are adjustable by the press of a button. The gentle turn of another knob switches on the engine, while the softest pressure on the accelerator pedal releases the handbrake. The car even has a voice! Press the button with the human profile and a mechanical monotone voice asks, “What do you want to do?” Tell the voice that you would like to access the navigation system, and it will obligingly instruct you how to proceed. Fancy talking to your car!

After the euphoria and novelty has faded somewhat, rational thoughts begin to develop. A car is a machine, designed with a singular purpose – to convey its passenger from one location to another in safety and comfort. It has an engine in which fuel is combusted, providing the energy to move pistons which in turn move rods connected to four circular rubber-covered wheels. A steering wheel permits the human driver to exercise his freedom of will to guide the vehicle in the direction of his choice, while the accelerator and break increase and inhibit the velocity. An ambient atmosphere is provided by air heaters and coolers, while an array of lights, powered by a battery, signal to the driver behind you of your desire to brake or change directions, while the twin-beams of light in front illuminate the darkness. Fuel is limited to specifics; not orange juice or dry wine or even carbonated water will provide the necessary combustion – only petroleum will suffice.

On one hand, the car is greatly appreciated. It is a marvelous machine; it enables people to undertake journeys in a fraction of the time that their great-grandfather’s horse-drawn carriage could trundle along. Great-Grandpa would have marveled at the speed and comfort afforded by your car; indeed, it joins the telephone and electricity as discoveries that have transformed our lives.

On the other hand, we are aware of its limitations. When I talk to my car, and it dutifully passes the pre-programmed question, “What would you like to do?” and I say, “Learn the whole of Shas and be an ehrliche Yid,” the poor pre-programmed mechanical voice is flummoxed and exclaims, “Please type in the first line of your address!” The car cannot climb stairs, will never smile, cannot prevent the driver hitting a brick wall, will not self-repair if scratched, or self-inflate its tires if they deflate. The windshield washer needs to be filled with soapy water, preferably with an anti-freezing additive; doors need to be manually closed; the windshield cannot see; the engine needs to be regularly serviced; and don’t forget to change the oil.

Despite its limitations (it is only a machine, after all), the knowledge that it was designed and crafted by a superior intelligence is axiomatic – self-evidently true. The first question asked by any car’s admirer will be, “What make is it?” The question pre-supposes that no machine pops into existence by itself. The admirer, on closer scrutiny, will observe that wheels run more smoothly on rubber than on iron and that round-shaped wheels are more efficient than square ones; a toughened glass windshield gives clearer visibility than tissue paper; brakes that slows the wheel’s rotation are more effective than throwing an anchor out of the window, and electrically powered blinkers are more efficient than the driver shouting out, “I’m turning right!” (given that the driver in the car behind would most likely not hear the shouts). Seeing the myriad of details, he understands instinctively that human intelligence designed it all, and his question will only be, “Which company – is it Ford, Volvo, BMW, Nissan…?” And when you respond, “Volvo V90,” he will purse his lips appreciatively and say, “V90…not bad!”

If it is axiomatic that the car – with all its limitations – is the product of Mr. Skoda’s brilliant team of designers, then it should be even more axiomatic that Mr. Volvo or Mr. Skoda, Henry Ford or Lord Rolls-Royce, and all the other gifted manufacturers of cars are, likewise, designed by a supreme intelligence. If no machine exists that either created itself, or popped into existence by random forces, then the super-super complex machine that we call a human being must obey the same criteria. A simple kal v’chomer.

The car’s owner’s manual lists in its index approximately five hundred different functions and components – hood release, seat adjustment, etc. – each of which is comprehendible and relatively simple. By contrast, a basic volume of Principles of Anatomy and Physiology contains some ten thousand entries in its index, from abdomen and veins to zymogenic cells, and each of the entries is complex beyond belief.

Take the mechanism of blood coagulation. When a pressurized blood-circulation system is punctured, a clot must form quickly to prevent the leakage of all the blood, as would happen if a plastic bottle of orange juice would spring a leak. If blood congeals in the wrong time or place, though, the clot may block circulation, with serious consequences. Furthermore, a clot has to stop bleeding all along the length of the cut, sealing it completely. Yet blood-clotting must be confined to the cut, or the entire blood system of the body might solidify, which is not conducive to a long life. Consequently, the clotting of blood must be tightly controlled so that the clot forms only when and where it is required…

The multi-staged cascade of chemical reactions requires every component of the process to be present – this one an activator, that one an accelerator, another one an inhibitor – for the whole thing to work. The absence of a single link in the chain-reaction will spell tragedy. When a mohel declares that a baby is yellow, he is telling us that one of the coagulatory factors has not yet been released, hence the danger in performing an operation. When said mohel clears the baby for a bris, he is informing us that a process of mind-numbing complexity is fully functioning. In the relief that follows his pronouncement, we are paying homage to the Designer of a life-saving mechanism on which our very existence depends – and therein lies the essence of a great truth…

Any system that needs all its components to work for it to perform the task is called minimal function. It must have the ability to accomplish its tasks in physically realistic circumstances. In order to lock your front door, you need a locking mechanism in the door, preferably at the edge; a groove in the doorpost; and a key to turn the lock. And don’t forget the door. Every one of those components is vital and irreplaceable (irreducibly complex) and every one of the components has to function correctly for it to work at all (minimal function). If there was a door but it was too wide for the aperture in the wall, if the lock was rusted and did not turn, if the groove in the doorpost was higher than the lock’s bolt, if the key did not fit the key-hole – then the whole operation could not function and you might want to think of barricading the door with your freezer to discourage unwanted visitors.

In any machine – as simple as a door lock – the absence of a single component that would render the system unusable might not be disastrous; there are alternatives and contingency plans that could be activated to guarantee security (think of an armed guard). But if life depended on the full functioning of that system, and the absence of a single component would disable the system on which life depends, then we understand well how that system must have been perfect from the very beginning.

In the same way that a cursory glance at a car will prompt the question, “That’s a good car – what make is it?” similarly, even superficial knowledge of how our own bodies work will clearly convince the thinking person that we, too, have a Designer and a Master Manufacturer – Bereishis bara Elokim.

 

Click here to purchase online.


NEW RELEASE: Song of the Sea

May 28, 2019

…It was a captivating story, but that is not why I’m writing to you. The reason that I am writing is because of the “Naomi” in my class. I am in the twelfth grade, and “Naomi” joined my class last year, putting her at a great disadvantage friend-wise. I never understood why this girl acted so strangely, spending recess in the library instead of in the lunchroom, wearing a hairstyle that is not the popular style, etc. Naomi from Song of the Sea gave me a glimpse into this girl’s mindset and showed me how although people may look different on the outside, we are really all very similar on the inside.

I’m not saying that I’m friends with my “Naomi” today, but I’m definitely much more understanding of her and much more friendly to her because of Song of the Sea. I know that many of my classmates also read the story, and although no one said it outright, I saw how the general attitude towards our “Naomi” has changed. So thank you so much for an entertaining read, but more importantly, thank you for giving a lonely girl a place in her class.

This was the letter penned by a reader of Song of the Sea. For all those who doubt the potency of fiction writing, there you have it, black on white: the far-reaching effects of a novel read by thinking readers.

Mind you, not every novel has such power, of course. It takes the right author and writing style, the right plot, and the right message to strike those sensitive chords within a reader. And Song of the Sea definitely has all of that, plus a lot more too.

 

Song of the Sea is the poignant story of an introverted teen and the challenges and misjudgments that she faces. It is a beautifully written and thought-provoking novel (though it’s got its funny moments, too!) that will move you to find the song in the great sea of different people out there. And to find the song within yourself…

See for yourself what others are fascinated about in this novel! It makes for great Shavuos/summertime reading, and its take-away messages will continue resonating with you long after you’ve finished the book!

 

Click here to order online.

 


NEW RELEASE: As a Father Cares for His Son

April 16, 2019

Do you remember where you were when you heard that Rav Shach was niftar?

I know I do. (Believe it or not, I was actually at a wedding…) When a monumental event occurs, it’s hard to ever forget the surrounding details of where you were and what you were doing at the time. And the petirah of a gadol hador like Rav Shach was nothing less than a monumental event—an exceedingly bitter one at that—for all of Klal Yisrael.

As a Father Cares for His Son is a magnificent collection of 25 beautiful stories about Rav Shach, the latest book in our gedolim series for kids. As the title suggests, Rav Shach truly cared for every Jew the way a father cares for his son. He was the rosh yeshivah of the roshei yeshivah, whose hasmadah and love for Torah were legendary, yet he thought nothing of accompanying a distressed talmid to an appointment late at night…and waiting outside for the boy the whole time, too. When he heard a beautiful explanation of a Tosafos from a chavrusa, he told the chavrusa, “I love this pshat so much; it is worth everything I own!” and promptly handed him every last dollar that he had on him—which happened to be $500 at the time.

These are the she’ifos you want your children to develop. This is the kind of book you want to read to them.

Which is why I plan on presenting this book to my own kids as a gift this Pesach. Just saying.

Click here to purchase online.

 


NEW RELEASE: A Fish on my Pillow And A Whack on my Head

April 12, 2019

The telltale knock-knock-knocking on my bedroom door slowly pulls me out of a deep sleep. I claw at the last vestiges of sweet sleep—maybe if I ignore the noise, it will stop and I’ll be able to drop back off to dreamland—but it’s a hopeless cause. The knocking is persistent, and soon it’s followed by a tremulous little voice.

“Ma? I had a bad dream…”

Groan. What was the bad dream about this time? And why, why, why did it have to be now, at 2:57 in the morning, when all I want to do is…(yawn)…go…back…to…sleep…

Sounds familiar? I thought so. Particularly if you’re the parents of imaginative little children, you’ve likely had your fair share of being woken up in middle of the night by fearful whimpering and “Can I come to your bed?” requests.

That’s why you’re going to love A Fish on my Pillow And A Whack on my Head. Here is an adorable children’s book that will actually help your little ones combat the very common childhood problem of having bad dreams at night. In a fun and entertaining way, kids will learn, as Ruvi does in this story, that imagination is a gift, and it’s an amazing tool that can be used to slay yucky nightmares, giving your kids—and hopefully you!—a peaceful night’s sleep…at last!

Click here to purchase online.


NEW RELEASE: Price Tags

April 11, 2019

Pesach might seem like a funny season to release a novel called Price Tags. Is there any season more costly than Pesach time? Between the matzah and all the pricey Pesach foods, and the new clothing for the family, and the new shoes, and all the cleaning help, etc., etc., whew—money sure is being spent!

But actually, that’s exactly what Price Tags is all about. It’s the gripping story of a family that “has it made” financially, and spends their money accordingly…and then their world gets turned on its head.

Oh, but this is not your typical “riches to rags” story—no, not at all. Because the characters—especially Yoni Greenstark—have so much background and baggage, which makes the plot so rich (no pun intended!) and multi-colored…

If you’re the kind of reader who enjoys “food for thought” novels, and you’re a fan of Ariella Schiller’s beautiful and emotionally-laden writing…then you’re absolutely going to LOVE Price Tags. Because this is one book that’s got it all—drama, a solid plot, lots of emotion, and some very important messages to think about.

Treat yourself this Pesach. You’ve worked hard…give yourself the gift of a good book to curl up with and enjoy, once all the cleaning/shopping/cooking is behind you. Buy a copy of Price Tags, and allow its magic to rejuvenate you!

Click here to purchase online.


NEW RELEASE: Modeh Ani, I Thank Hashem

April 10, 2019

“The cow is in the barn…it goes moo, moo.

The train is on the track…it goes choo, choo.

The bird is in the tree…it goes tweet, tweet.

All are saying Modeh Ani!”

If you’re humming along while reading these lines, then you probably have Uncle Moishy and Torah Island CDs playing constantly in your house and car. (Guilty as charged…) That Modeh Ani song is a great one, as are all the Modeh Ani songs out there that your nursery kids come home singing.

But when it comes to books on this important topic of thanking Hashem for His many kindnesses…well, there really aren’t too many of them. It was this dearth that made us so excited about Modeh Ani—I Thank HashemHere is an adorable children’s book that focuses specifically on the first tefillah that we say each morning immediately upon opening our eyes: Modeh Ani!

With cheerful and bright illustrations on each page, Modeh Ani—I Thank Hashem first explains, in a very age-appropriate way, what our neshamah is, and how it goes up to Hashem at night when we sleep and then returns to us each morning. The book then goes on to detail how much Hashem loves us all, and that is why He gives us our loving family…our eyes…our mouths…our feet…and a new day full of opportunities to serve Him.

Reading this book will fill your child with love in return for Hashem, and with appreciation to Him for showering us with so much good, and for believing in our ability to use that good properly. Modeh Ani…I thank Hashem!

Click here to purchase online.