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Book Review: Capturing the Moon: Classic and Modern Jewish Tales

Review By: 
Bonny V. Fetterman
Capturing the Moon: Classic and Modern Jewish Tales

On Friday mornings, Rabbi Ed Feinstein explains, he used to tell stories to the children in the Jewish day school where he served as principal, and on Friday nights, he gave sermons at his congregation—until he realized that grown-ups prefer stories too.

The stories in this wonderful collection were chosen for their power to teach and are intended to provide opportunities for parents and children to talk about the values they wish to live by. There are stories about wise and foolish choices, kings and jesters, rabbis and students, biblical and midrashic figures (including several tales about Elijah arriving in time for Pesach). Each story is followed by a short commentary, relevant quotes from Jewish sources, and questions to stimulate discussion. An index identifies stories that relate to specific values, such as charity, friendship, heroism, honesty, sharing, and wisdom.

Tales for older children connect movingly with modern Jewish history: A soldier in the czarist army learns of his roots from three items at the bottom of his knapsack; another tale tells how the early Zionists chose the tallis for Israel’s first flag. This collection of old and new tales is a treasure for readers of all ages.

Bonny V. Fetterman is the literary editor of Reform Judaism magazine.