Review: Naomi Teitelbaum Ends the World

Naomi Teitelbaum Ends the World

by Samara Shanker

Atheneum Books for Young Readers (imprint of Simon & Schuster), 2022

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Merle Eisman Carrus

Buy at

Naomi Teitelbaum Ends the World is a fast paced, captivating story for every Bar/Bat Mitzvah student. Naomi is studying and preparing for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah along with her two best friends, Eitan and Becca. They are excited about the parties they will have with delicious food and presents. As the gift checks arrive in the mail, their mothers remind them to not forget the religious and communal significance of the ceremony. When Naomi opens a mysterious gift with a small clay doll in it, her friends urge her to follow the directions in the package. 
Naomi instructs the small Golem, but she does not realize the power she holds over this tiny creature. At first, the magical gift seems entertaining and fun, but things soon get out of control. With each simple command from Naomi, the little Golem is growing and becoming stronger. She starts seeing strange visions, dybbuks and other demons from Jewish legend. In an effort to hide the Golem from her family, Naomi gives it the command to go out and save the world. 

Naomi and her friends soon realize that the Golem is unable to address human problems in a safe way. As they race through the neighborhoods of Los Angeles on their bicycles to find and stop the Golem, the reader sees how strong friendship can be. It is very interesting and thought provoking to see how the children learn that repairing a problem in the world can go very wrong. Sometimes the best of intentions can have results that are impossible to foresee. This storyline explores the idea that sometimes you cannot fix all the world's problems, and each of us doing a small part is just enough to help the whole.

This is a great contender for the Sydney Taylor Book Award, with strong Jewish content. Naomi learns about her Torah portion, and the children have a wonderful relationship with their Rabbi. The story uses and updates the traditional Jewish figure of the Golem and teaches a wonderful lesson on the importance of Tikkun Olam.

Are you interested in reviewing books for The Sydney Taylor Shmooze? Click here!

Reviewer Merle Eisman Carrus Resides in New Hampshire and writes book reviews for the NH Jewish Reporter newspaper. She is a graduate of Emerson College and received her Masters of Jewish Studies from Hebrew College. Merle is the National President of the Brandeis National Committee and co-chair of Women's League Reads. She leads books discussion groups and author interviews. She blogs her book reviews at