Son’s Jewish journey inspires kids’ book
Frosty the Snowman’s old top hat isn’t the only magical head covering, it seems. A new children’s book by Marlboro resident Dawn Wilensky tells the story of Holden, a pre-bar mitzva boy who goes to a Judaica shop to look for “the perfect yarmulke to wear on his big day.”
The shopkeeper insists he try on seven different kipot, each of which transports him back to a different moment in Jewish history.
“He is there when Moses addresses the Hebrews before their exodus from Egypt, when Noah gathers the animals on the ark, and even pays a visit to the Western Wall in modern-day Israel,” said Wilensky in an e-mail.
The book’s title, No Ordinary Yarmulke, sets the stage for the youngster’s fantastic journey through time, said the author. Inspiration for the book came from her real-life son Austin, now 17.
The author and her husband Stu moved to Marlboro in 2003. Their son, now a junior at Marlboro High School, studied for his bar mitzva a few years ago at Monmouth Torah Links.
“Austin was enrolled from third grade until his bar mitzva in 2010,” Wilensky said. “We were welcomed by a group of teachers and rabbis who made us feel part of their family. We had Shabbat dinners with various rabbis and attended Purim celebrations, seders, and many other special events that made our connection to Judaism even stronger.”
When her book was published by Targum Press in January, Wilensky said, she reached out to Torah Links’ Rabbi Yitzi Oratz and principal Shulamis Schreiber. They invited her to do a book signing at their Purim carnival.
The author said she worked for seven months on the book, which is illustrated by Tirtsa Peleg, an author and illustrator who lives in Israel.
“My target audience is aged seven-12,” Wilensky said. “I believe there are many life lessons buried in Holden’s incredible adventure, which will delight kids and their families, and deepen their connection to their Jewish faith. I also believe that children of all faiths will not only enjoy reading the book, but learn something in the process.”
Wilensky, 52, said she waited a long time to see the completion of her first book. “I started writing a novel when I was nine years old, back in Bensonhurst (Brooklyn), where I was born and grew up. But I never finished it.”
She did, however, continue to hover over keyboards, working as a writer and editor for numerous trade and special-interest publications. “I am truly proud of the nine-year-old me who never gave up on her dream and created a book that I hope readers will find not just ordinary, but extraordinary.”
No Ordinary Yarmulke is available at noordinaryyarmulke.weebly.com, amazon.com, menuchapublishers.com, and other Jewish websites, Wilensky said.