Review: Dream by Dream: The Story of Rabbi Mayer Wise

Dream by Dream The Story of Rabbi Mayer Wise

by Geri Kolesar, illustrated by Sofia Moore

Kar-Ben Publishing (imprint of Lerner Publishing Group), 2023

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Suzanne Grossman

This picture book biography of Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise details his life from his childhood experiences of poverty and antisemitism in Europe to his development of Reform Judaism in America. We learn about his revolutionary ideas of girls learning Talmud along with boys, women and men being treated as equals in Jewish life and sitting together in synagogue, as well as adding instrumental music to Shabbat services. These objectives were originally disruptive but later found acceptance and sparked a form of Judaism which has grown and become part of the established Jewish world. A remarkable powerhouse, he initiated construction of a major synagogue, began a Jewish newspaper, and founded Hebrew Union College, all still in existence. His dream of a tolerant and universally welcoming Judaism lives on.

The Jewish representation is present on every page of this book. The delicate artwork adds to this with images of synagogue worship, Shabbat dinner, and the Rabbi’s wedding under the chuppah. The characters are dressed in traditional clothing with black hats, payos, and later in the book, small kippot demonstrating his newer style of observance. Extensive backmatter, a timeline, and the clear lively text make this a welcome addition to all library collections. 

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Reviewer Suzanne Grossman is happily retired after 30 years as a children’s library media specialist. She had the opportunity to share books, tell stories, and encourage the joy of reading with thousands of children. The moment when a child enters a story, experiences life as a character does and walks through the setting the author has created is magical. She is honored to have the opportunity to be part of the Sydney Taylor Shmooze, working to bring the best of the newest Jewish children’s literature into the lives of young readers. Having the gift of time, she now enjoys writing picture books and sharing them with children. Happy reading everyone! 


  1. Great review. You certainly made me want to read this.


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