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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Welcome Alan Radding


Alan Radding spent ten years as a lay leader of his synagogue’s children’s services and additional years as a parent advisor to the synagogue’s teen program. The Uncertain Art of Hooking Up and his other writing for teens were inspired by his activities with teens at the synagogue. His stories for teens and children can be found at his website, www.jewishfamilystories.com. Many of his children’s stories have been collected in his book titled Miracles—Stories for Jewish Children and their Families (Booklocker, 2003). He is regularly invited to read his children’s stories at synagogues and Jewish community centers in New England. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Newton, MA

Tell me about your new book.

Miracles is a collection of original stories for children ranging from ages 7-12. With that wide an age range, obviously not every story will appeal to every child. The stories cover the major holidays and some minor ones. The goal of the stories, in one way or another, is to apply Jewish values and Torah to situations contemporary Jewish children enounter

What was your inspiration for the book?

I spent 10 years as a lay leader of my synagogue's children's services while my own children were growing through the various levels of children's services. During that time I sought stories that addressed the situations I knew the children were encountering and, in the process, would make Jewish values and Torah meaningful. I also wanted stories that shared the attitude of the children. The children didn't like being at services or at synagogue; they didn't like aspects of Jewish holidays or Jewish practices. The characters in various stories don't like those things either, but in the course of the story the characters come to a different appreciation and change of attitude.

Was any research involved?

I spent a lot of time reading Torah and books on Jewish practices to make sure the stories were accurate from the standpoint of the Conservative movement. During that time I also participated in various Jewish adult learning programs and applied some of what I picked up to the stories. Maybe my best research was the actual reading of the stories aloud each week, first to my own children and then to the larger group attending children’s services. They make it abundantly clear what works and what doesn't.

Are you working on anything new?

Yes, I'm working on a series of Jewish children's picture books that revolve around Jewish practices in the home. The stories are told by two savvy cats who observe the family they live with and are knowledgeable about Jewish practices and Yiddishkeit and even try to participate in the practices, often with silly consequences. Like children, they sometimes get into trouble or disrupt things but they really enjoy living as Jewish cats. They love chasing dreidels and hunting down the afikomen with the children. Protecting the Sukkah from squirrels turns into an epic adventure. I hope the stories will come out in 2009 as the Meow stories: Shabbat Meow, Chanukah Meow, Pesach Meow, Sukkot Meow, and more. Shalom Beiyit Meow tells about the family adopting a new puppy, Miezuzah Meow describes the family’s move to a new home.

Alan, thank you for sharing your thoughts about your creative journey!

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