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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Review: Crafting Jewish by Rivky Koenig

Title: Crafting Jewish: Fun Holiday Crafts and Party Ideas for the Whole Family
Author: Rivky Koenig
Photography: Jennifer Levy
Pages: 272
Publisher: Mesorah Publications Ltd. (November 12, 2008)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Crafts / Religious
Edition: Hardback - many thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review! Thanks Mark!!

Perfect for : Personal Use, Kids Crafts, Kosher Kitchens, Hostess Gift

In a nutshell: This is an absolutely beautiful book from cover to cover, the recipes, crafts and pictures are stunning! While all the items within the book are geared toward a Kosher kitchen and Jewish holidays, most of the craft projects can be changed a little (if needed) to fit into any theme or holiday! This wonderful book has some scrumptious recipes, kids crafts and elegant crafts for adults within each holiday section. With easy-to-follow instructions and beautiful full-color pictures, this book would be a great addition to your bookshelf, or would make a great hostess gift!

From the Publisher's Press Release:
Crafting Jewish follows the Jewish calendar year, beginning with projects for Rosh Hashanah and concluding with crafts for the Sabbath and everyday fun. Among them are: a painted honey dish, sweet-scented sachets, a “stained-glass” flag, a mini-succah centerpiece, a wooden-block menorah, Purim puppets, a seder plate, a mezuzah, and Sabbath candlesticks. The book also suggests party ideas and quick menus for each holiday, such as: Round Raisin Challah, Breakthe- Fast Muffins, Butternut Squash Kugel, Potato Latkes with Applesauce, Falafel & Fruit Buffet, Purim Pops, a Passover Week Picnic, Frozen Cheesecake, and Koenig’s Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies. Woman’s Day magazine plans to feature Koenig’s Glowing Glass Menorah as part of a Chanukah spread.

Each project in Crafting Jewish features very clear and easy-to-follow instructions, along with a full-color picture of the completed item. Koenig provides a detailed tool and ingredient list, as well as a description of all tools and decorative materials needed to recreate her ideas. The illustrations, shot by food photographer Jennifer Levy, are aesthetically rich and inspiring. Koenig notes that many of the crafts are easily adaptable to multiple holidays or everyday fun and will appeal to adults and children alike.

Instead of my normal 1st paragraph, I'm going to show you a few of the project photographs that the publisher provided: Chanukah Tray, Beaded Napkin Rings, Decoupage Fruit Tray, Candy Pillows, New Sew Pillow and Large Hamentasch.

My Review:
The pictures above are very pretty, and represent some very nice projects from the book, but they are not my favorites! Some of my favorites are the Decoupaged Apple Dish, children's costume accessories, Embellished Picture Frame and the Decorated Mirror. The pictures don't even include any of the recipes such as: Apple-Pear Gallete, One-Bowl Carrot Cake, Chicken Kabobs and Pomegranate Punch.

Content: There are over 120 colorful projects inside this book, with lots of ideas for get-togethers, including lots of recipes! The book includes things for the following Jewish holidays: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Succot, Chanakah, Tu B'Shevat, Purim, Pesach, Shavout, Shabbat. It also includes a chapter for every-day use. The content is suitable for all ages, although kids should be supervised by an adult.

Format: The book starts with a note to parents, then a note to kids. The author then talks about kosher kitchens, followed by a product and tool guide and then a section for each major Jewish holiday. For each holiday there are plenty of craft projects and recipes.

Readability: Very easy to read, with clear pictures and easily understood instructions. There is even a section for templates! It can't get any easier unless someone else comes and does the work for you. :)

Overall: A wonderful book for adults and children full of Jewish recipes and craft ideas. You don't need to be Jewish to appreciate or use this book - anyone can enjoy this book and make any of the items it contains. I encourage you to pick up a copy and try some great new recipes and crafts for the holidays!

About the Author: (From the publisher's press release)
Rivky Koenig is passionate about three things: family life, crafting, and preserving Jewish traditions. Not surprisingly, the upstate New York teacher, wife, and mother of five found a creative way to weave her enthusiasm into a single focus — Crafting Jewish: Fun holiday crafts
and party ideas for the whole family (ISBN-13: 9781422608173, ArtScroll/Shaar Press). A delightful and visually appealing volume, Koenig’s book appeals to novice and experienced crafters alike, offering more than 130 projects themed around Jewish holidays.

A teacher of Literature, Language–Arts, and Social Studies, Koenig gained recognition for her tactile, hands-on approach to pedagogy, reinforcing subject matter through artistic and creative tasks. “It’s well known that people learn more by doing than by hearing,” she reflects.

Her foray into Jewish crafting began with a stint as director of a series of crafting workshops for a popular teens’ summer camp in the Catskill Mountains. “I saw kids get turned on by the idea of handmade traditional crafts they could make at home with family and friends. As we created, we’d discuss the significance of the project to Jewish values and practices. These lessons stay with them for life.”

Rivky Koenig’s talents are captured in full display in Crafting Jewish, a concept that caught the attention of ArtScroll Mesorah Publications in Brooklyn NY, a major publisher of Jewish books for more than three decades. “Crafting Jewish is a brilliant way for families to share significant
and quality time together,” enthused Gedaliah Zlotowitz, Executive Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at ArtScroll Mesorah Publications. “In today’s economy, everyone’s looking for less expensive activities. Here’s a resource that saves money and time while enriching everyone’s knowledge of Jewish traditions.”


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