Review: An Invitation to Passover

An Invitation to Passover

by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky & Rabbi Deborah Bodin Cohen, illustrated by Mariia Kolker

Kalaniot Books (imprint of Endless Mountains Publishing), 2023

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Rachel J. Fremmer

In An Invitation to Passover, Hannah’s family invites a diverse array of friends - and the reader! - to their seder when their relatives cannot, for unspecified reasons, attend. As Hannah and her family teach their guests about Passover, the reader learns along with them. But the teaching and learning are not one-way. Each guest brings a contribution to the seder which responds to a prompt in Hannah’s invitation and which shows how their culture celebrates the different aspects of the seder, like springtime and freedom. Backmatter includes more details about Passover and a glossary, although it would have been helpful if the glossary had included a pronunciation guide. The illustrations convey how warm and welcoming Hannah’s family is. An Invitation to Passover is an age-appropriate introduction to the holiday for both Jewish and non-Jewish children and excellent preparation for anyone who has just been invited to their first seder.

Hannah’s family is presented as moderately observant and knowledgeable about Passover, but clearly live in a diverse neighborhood with all kinds of friends. While most of the guests are not Jewish, one family includes Jews from the former Soviet Union - an underrepresented group in most books about Jews, and a welcome addition.

Ed. Note: This title was included on the Association of Jewish Libraries Spring 2023 Holiday Highlights list.

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Reviewer Rachel J. Fremmer is a lawyer-turned-elementary-school librarian. She is a native New Yorker and lives there with her husband and two daughters, ages 17 and 15, who are rapidly outgrowing her area of book expertise. She is continually inspired by the city even though apartment living means she is running out of room for her picture book collection. She was selected by PJ Library for their inaugural Picture Book Summer Camp for Emerging Writers. When she is not reading or writing, she loves baking and doing crossword puzzles.