2.1.13 Issue

by Mark Kirchhoff, Administrative Assistant, Center for Jewish Life

The Center for Jewish Life enthusiastically announces that the 22nd year of the Elinor A. and Norman Whitman Book Appreciation Contest is now underway. The contest is made possible by the Elinor A. and Norman Whitman Book Appreciation Fund created by the Whitman family. Mrs. Whitman devoted a lifetime of service to the youth of the Omaha community. For many years she was a member of the Kripke Library Board and on the faculty of the religious schools at both Beth El Synagogue and Temple Israel. This contest furthers Mrs. Whitman’s goal of promoting Jewish literature for children.

Mrs. Whitman fully understood the importance of reading and writing in everyone’s life. She believed that when young people received encouragement to participate in these activities they would develop a love for books, reading, and writing that could last a lifetime. The book appreciation contest provides such encouragement with the added incentive of competition to win a prize, all within the context of developing an appreciation for Jewish life. All of the books the children select for the contest must have Jewish content in order to qualify.

This year’s contest introduces a new category of contestants – children, four years of age, now have the opportunity to participate. With the help of an adult, they will select a book and have that person read it to them. They will then create a picture of what they liked best about the book, and tell one word that best describes the book to them.

Children in kindergarten through second grade will use their imaginations to design and create an original book jacket that could be used with a book they have selected. This provides the opportunity for them to think about the content of the book and express that content in a creative manner. Crayons, markers, paint, and gluing items to a page are all valid means of expression in this category.

Children in grades three through six are challenged with a more structured approach to demonstrate reading and writing skills. Their competition includes writing a summary of the book, with identifying information – author, title, number of pages – then writing a one or two paragraph synopsis.  They will also select between producing a 1 page newspaper about the book; writing a letter to the author; making a poster for the book; making a shoebox diorama of an important aspect of the book, or choosing a character that the child would (or would not) like to have as a friend and describing why.

All grade levels are being challenged at their ability levels, and the contest is designed to be fun and educational. All entries will be judged, and the top three winners in each category will receive books as prizes. The names of all contest winners and all participants will be listed in the Jewish Press. All entrants will receive a certificate of participation. This is a great opportunity for parents to reinforce reading with their children by participating with them. Visit the Kripke Jewish Federation Library to select a book! Library hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Fridays. Applications with instructions may be received through teachers or through the library. For questions about the contest, contact Mary Sue Grossman at 402.334.6445 or mgrossman@jewishomaha.org. Applications must be returned to the student’s teacher or to the Kripke Jewish Federation Library by March 1.

The Elinor A. and Norman Whitman Book Appreciation Contest is presented by the Center for Jewish Life and promoted by Beth El Synagogue, Beth Israel Synagogue, Temple Israel and Friedel Jewish Academy.