2021 High Holiday Reading List


Acoca, Rabbi Ilan.  The Sephardic Book of Why: A Guide to Sephardic Traditions and Customs.   246, Aco

Overview of the customs and traditions of the Judeo-Spanish (Sephardic) Jews in terms of prayer/liturgy, and cultural contributions. 

Cardin, Rabbi Nina Beth.  The Tapestry of Jewish Time: A Spiritual Guide to Holidays and Life Cycle Events. 240, Car

Information about the spiritual and historical roots of Jewish holidays and life-cycle events by intertwining Judaism’s traditional rituals with contemporary innovations.

Falk, Marcia.  The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season.  242, Fal

New English and Hebrew prayers and reflections for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the days between them. 

Gershon, Rabbi Stuart Weinberg.  Kol Nidrei: Its Origin, Development, and Significance.    262.2, Ger

Explains the origins and halakhic basis of Kol Nidrei, the way it functions in modern times, and the debates over the centuries. 

Goodman, Philip. The Yom Kippur Anthology.  242.4, Goo

Collected Jewish writings from scripture to literature and art for all ages.

Goodman, Philip. The Rosh Hashanah Anthology.   242.1, Goo

Collected Jewish Writings from scripture to literature and art for all ages.

Green, Arthur.  Judaism for the world: Reflections on God, Life and Love. 250, Gre

Winner of the 2020 National Jewish Book Award in the Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice category, Green calls out to seekers of all sorts, offering a universal response to the eternal human questions of who we are, why we exist, where we are going, and how to live.

Hammer, Reuven.  Entering the High Holy Days: A Guide to Their History, Prayers, and Themes.  242, Ham

Provides historical background and interprets the ideas, practices, and liturgy that lend contemporary relevance to the holidays.

Hoffman, Rabbi Lawrence.  All These Vows: Kol Nidre.  262.2, Hof

Provides the history and authorship of this medieval Aramaic prayer from the viewpoints of the ancient Rabbis and modern theologians, and Biblical, mystical, Talmudic, feminist, and personal perspectives. 

Hoffman, Rabbi Lawrence.  Who By Fire, Who By Water: Un’taneh Tokef.  262.2, Hof

The author explores the profound, perplexing and persuasive power of this prayer. Features the traditional Hebrew text with a new translation. 

Isaacs, Ronald.  Every Person’s Guide to the High Holy Days. 242, Isa

Provides home and synagogue observances, customs, and overall guide to the holidays.

Lew, Rabbi Alan.  This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared: The Days of Awe as a Journey of Transformation.  242, Lew

The author marks out seven distinct stages that draw on the holiday rituals to awaken our souls and wholly transform us using Torah readings, Buddhist parables, Jewish fables, and stories from his own life.

Olitzky, Rabbi Kerry and Rabbi Rachel Sabath.  Preparing Your Heart for the High Holidays: A Guided Journal.  242, Oli

Written to connect people with the spiritual rhythm of this time of the year. Directs the reader inward to take a moral and spiritual inventory. 

Sarna, Jonathan.  A Time to Every Purpose: Letters to a Young Jew. 249, Sar

Using the Jewish calendar as his starting point, Sarna reflects on the major themes of Jewish life as expressed in a full year of holidays — from Passover in the spring to Purim eleven months later. Passover, for instance, yields a discussion of freedom; Shavuot, a discussion of Torah; Yom Kippur, the role of the individual within the Jewish community; Chanukah, issues of assimilation and anti-assimilation.

Segelman, Rabbi Jeffrey.  Letters to My Children: Yom Kippur Sermons Westchester Jewish Center 1987-2019.  264, Seg

Each Yom Kippur Rabbi Segelman read a letter to the Westchester Jewish Center congregation that served as a window on his heart and his soul. The letters, while addressed to his children, touched on great themes and delivered valuable wisdom. 

Segal, Eliezer.  Holidays, History, and Halakhah. 240.Seg

An anthology of essays about Jewish holidays and other calendar events spiced with humor and the tension between loyalty to the heritage and relevance to the time in history. 

Seidman, Hillel.  The Glory of the Jewish Holidays.  240, Sei

This treasury of information on Jewish tradition, customs, law, history, and philosophy is complemented by Jewish art. 

Steinberg, Paul.  Celebrating the Jewish Year: The Fall Holidays Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot.   240.STE

Learn the origins of the holidays, the season’s themes, and new ways to celebrate. Contains primary sources, poems, prayers, rituals and stories. 

Strassfeld, Michael.  The Jewish Holidays: A Guide & Commentary.  240, Str

Comprehensive and authoritative guide to the practice and meaning of these special days of the year. Weaves traditional and contemporary, the communal and the individual, and the letter and the spirit. 

Waskow, Arthur.  Seasons of Our Joy: A Celebration of Modern Jewish Renewal, A Creative Guide to the Jewish Holidays.  240, Was

This book is about the circle of the year, festivals built upon the cycles of the sun and moon and written from the standpoint of Jewish renewal. 


Adler, David.  The Kids’ Catalog of Jewish Holidays.  J240, Adl

Presents stories, poems, songs, recipes, crafts, puzzles, cartoons and other activities for the Jewish holidays. 

Berger, Gilda.  Celebrate! Stories of the Jewish Holidays.  J240, Ber

A lively retelling of the stories in the Bible that serve as the foundation for the Jewish holidays. This is a “what”, “who” and “how” of holiday celebrations. 

Cooper, Ilene.  Jewish Holidays All Year Round. J240, Coo (in association with the Jewish Museum)

The meaning and history of each holiday is explained in simple, clear language, along with the ways each day is observed, both in the synagogue and at home. Includes crafts, recipes.

Drucker, Malha.  The Family treasury of Jewish Holidays. J240, Dru

Rich compendium of facts, activities, and stories from around the world intended for the entire family. Includes plays, recipes and songs. 

Drucker, Malka.  Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur: Sweet Beginnings, a Jewish Holidays Book.  J242, Dru

The author probes the history, customs, and meaning of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur as well as the ten days that fall between them. 

Fass, David.  The Shofar That Lost Its Voice.   JF, Fas

When Ari races home to practice blowing the shofar for the children’s services, he discovers that the shofar does not work! As Ari searches for the reason why it does not work, he finds himself within it and discovers a magical world. 

Greenfeld, Howard.  Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  J242, Gre

Discusses the meaning, history, and observance of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Hoffman, Rabbi Lawrence and Dr. Ron Wolfson.  What You Will See Inside a Synagogue. 

J260, Hof

Pictures and concise descriptions of what is happening, the objects used, the spiritual leaders and laypeople who have specific roles. The basic vocabulary of synagogue life. 

Jaffe, Nina.  The Uninvited Guest and Other Jewish Holiday Tales.  J398, Jaf

Stories drawn from the rich folklore and legends surrounding the Jewish holidays that are passed down through generations are featured in this book. 

Kimmel, Eric.  Days of Awe: Stories for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  JF, Kim

Three moving tales illustrate the wonder of the Jewish High Holidays. Repentance, Prayer and Charity are the three concepts at the heart of the holidays.

Kozodoy, Ruth Lurie.  The Book of Jewish Holidays. J240, Kos

Discusses the significance and the customs of the various Jewish holidays and provides activities and crafts for each holiday. 

Levitan, Sonia.  A Sound to Remember.  JF, Lev

When the Rabbi chooses Jacov-slow, stuttering, clumsy, and stumbling-to blow the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, everyone was surprised. When the shofar Jacob blew made no sound, the rabbi did something that surprised everyone!

Musleah, Rahel.  Apples and Pomegranates: A Family Seder for Rosh Hashanah. 

J242.1, Mus. 

A Rosh Hashanah seder is a very old custom dating back 2000 years. It is mentioned in the Talmud (Horayot 12a) by Rabbi Abaye who said people should eat certain foods that grow abundantly and symbolize prosperity. 

Rauchwerger, Lisa.  Chocolate Chip Challah and Other Twists on the Jewish Holiday Table.  641.5, Rau

Introduction to Jewish cooking for children with humorous anecdotes, sidebars by Jewish artist, author and cook! 

Schwartz, Howard.  The Day the Rabbi Disappeared: Jewish Holiday Tales of Magic. 

J398.3, Sch

Twelve Jewish tales from around the world by rabbis famous for their knowledge including women rabbis, are retold. They all feature elements of magic. 

Taylor, Sydney.  Danny Loves a Holiday.  JF, Tay

This author of the All-of-a-Kind Family stories features Danny who loves holidays but somehow unexpected things always seems to happen when he is around. 

Weinstein, Dori.  YaYa & YoYo Sliding into the New Year.  JF, Wei

What happens when thrill-loving fifth grader Ellie (YaYa) is invited by her best friend Megan, to go to the new Water Park but realizes Megan is going on Rosh Hashanah? 

Wolff, Ferida.  Rachel’s Roses.  JF, Wol

In the Lower East Side of Manhattan during the early 1900s, third-grader Rachel’s mother boldly starts her own dressmaking business and Rachel discovers the perfect way to set herself apart from tagalong little sister Hannah on Rosh Hashanah.

Yolen, Jane.  Jewish Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook.  J398.1, Yol

Traditions of Jewish storytelling and cuisine. The author shares fun facts and anecdotes about the creation of the stories and the history of the dishes.


Adler, David.  Yom Kippur Shortstop.  W5, A

Jacob loves baseball, and he knows his team counts on him. But when a critical game is scheduled on the holiday of Yom Kippur, he doesn’t know what to do. In this reflection of the Sandy Koufax story, Jacob discovers the value of prayer and of being on different kinds of teams. 

Barash, Chris.  Jackie and Jessie and Joni and Jae: A Rosh Hashanah Story.  W5, B

Four friends gather with others on Rosh Hashanah for Tashlich, when they apologize for mistakes they have made then toss breadcrumbs on the water to represent the mistakes floating away.

Cohen, Deborah Bodin.  Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride.  W5, C

Observing Rosh Hashanah–the Jewish New Year–Engineer Ari apologizes for his boastful ways as the drives the very first train from Jaffa to Jerusalem in 1892.

Cone, Molly.  The Jewish New Year.  W5, C

The shofar blows on Rosh Hashanah to herald the beginning of the Jewish New Year. It is a holiday of hope, a time for righting wrongs and a time for starting anew. Molly Cone explains for children of all faiths the meaning of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 

Fishman, Cathy Goldberg.  On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  W5, F

A young girl notices new things going on like greeting cards and special blessings as her family prepares for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Goldin, Barbara Diamond.  The World’s Birthday: A Rosh Hashanah Story.  W5, G

Daniel is determined to have a birthday party for the world to celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

Greene, Jacqueline Dembar.  The Secret Shofar of Barcelona.  W5, G

In the late 1500s, while the conductor of the Royal Orchestra of Barcelona prepares for a concert to celebrate Spain’s colonies in the New World, his son secretly practices playing the Shofar to help Jews, who must hide their faith from the Inquisition, to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Includes historical facts and glossary.

Groner, Judyth & Madeline Wikler.  All About Yom Kippur.  W5, G. 

Brief text introduces the history and customs of Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Forgiveness, the holiest day of the Jewish year. Includes folktales.

Groner, Judyth & Madeline Wikler.  All About Rosh Hashanah.  W5, G

Brief text introduces the history and customs of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Includes folktales.

Hammer, Jill.  The Garden of Time.  W5, H

In this story based on ancient Jewish legend, Adam and Eve walk through the Garden of Eden, noticing what is happening around them and deciding what holidays they will celebrate based on what they see, smell, hear, and taste. Gorgeous text and art illuminate Judaism, the calendar, and the environment for both children and adults.

Heller, Linda.  Today is the Birthday of the World.  W5, H

On the birthday of the world, all of God’s creatures pass before Him as He asks whether each has been the best giraffe, or bee, or child they could be, helping to make the world a better place.

Henkes, Kevin.  Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse.  W5, H

Lilly loves everything about school, especially her teacher, but when he asks her to wait a while before showing her new purse, she does something for which she is very sorry later.

Hoffer, Rinat.  Shani’s Shoebox.  W5, H

For Shani’s family, Rosh Hashanah begins a cycle of responsibility for the natural environment, as her shoebox is recycled into something else. 

Holub, Joan.  Apples and Honey: A Rosh Hashanah Lift-The-Flap Book.  W5, H

Rosh Hashanah is here and everyone is busy getting ready for the holiday!

Jules, Jacqueline.  What a Way to Start a New Year! A Rosh Hashanah Story.  W5, J

Having moved just before Rosh Hashanah, Harry and Dina fear the new year will be nothing but unpacking and leftover pizza until their parents take them to synagogue where they meet the Levine family.

Jules, Jacqueline.  The Hardest Word: A Yom Kippur Story.  W5, J

The Ziz, a huge bird that is clumsy but good-hearted, accidentally destroys a vegetable garden and when he asks God for advice he learns the importance of apologizing. 

Kimmel, Eric.  Big Sam: A Rosh Hashanah Tall Tale.  W5, K

Digging the Grand Canyon to use as a mixing bowl, a giant bakes an enormous challah for Rosh Hashanah and cleans up the environment afterwards.

Kimmel, Eric.  Gershon’s Monster: A Story for the Jewish New Year.  W5, K

When his sins threaten the lives of his beloved twin children, a Jewish man finally repents of his wicked ways. Retelling of a Hasidic legend featuring Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer.

Kimmel, Eric.  Even Higher! A Rosh Hashanah Story by I.L. Peretz.  W5, K

A skeptical visitor to the village of Nemirov finds out where its rabbi really goes just before the Jewish New Year, when the villagers claim he goes to heaven to speak to God.

Kimmel, Eric.  Gabriel’s Horn.  W5, K

A mysterious soldier who appears at the door hands Gabriel a tarnished horn, and disappears. As the years go by, Gabriel’s family prospers and they, in turn, help their neighbors. Could their good luck have something to do with the soldier or the horn?

Kimmel, Eric.  Little Red Rosie: A Rosh Hashanah Story.  W5, K

In this playful version of The Little Red Hen, a young girl enlists her bird friends, to help make the challah and host a house full of guests for Rosh Hashanah. 

Kosman, Miriam.  Red, Blue and Yellow Yarn: A Story for Yom Kippur.  W5, K

A tender story of a little boy, Donny, who unintentionally gets into trouble with his bubby but finds through bubby’s stories, that many generations of children like him make mistakes only to be helped and forgiven by their bubby.

Manushkin, Fran.  Sophie and the Shofar: A New Year’s Story.  W5, M

After describing some of the traditions of Rosh Hashanah to her cousin from Russia, Sophie learns about trust and forgiveness. 

Marshall, Linda Elovitz.  Talia and the Rude Vegetables.  W5, M

City-girl Talia misunderstands her grandmother’s request that she go to the garden for “root vegetables” for a Rosh Hashanah stew but manages to find some she thinks are rude, as well as a good use for the rest she harvests. Includes a recipe for root vegetable stew. 

Newman, Leslea.  Here is the World: A Year of Jewish Holidays.  W5, N

Beginning with the weekly observance of Shabbat, readers join a family in celebrating the holidays and the corresponding seasons. Includes holiday recipes and crafts. 

Rouss, Sylvia.  Sammy Spider’s First Rosh Hashanah.  W5, R

A young spider wants to join in as he watches a Jewish family prepare to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. 

Rouss, Sylvia.  Sammy Spider’s First Yom Kippur.  W5, R

When Josh breaks the rules and plays ball indoors, he finds himself apologizing not only to his parents, but to Sammy Spider as well. A Yom Kippur story about saying “I’m sorry.”

Rubinstein, Elana.  Once Upon and Apple Cake: A Rosh Hashanah Story.  W5, R

Ten-year old Saralee, who loves to cook and help out at her family’s restaurant, and has a heightened sense of smell, can still not identify what makes her Zadie’s special cake the best. 

Sabbag, Galia.  Shira at the Temple: A Yom Kippur Story.  W5, S

While sitting with her parents at the Yom Kippur service, Shira suddenly gets up and approaches the rabbi and asks if she can take part in the service. While not knowing a lot of Hebrew, she understands the importance of Yom Kippur and asks God to take all the Hebrew letters that she knows and make them into a prayer. Shira sings the Hebrew alphabet song and inspires the congregation. The story is sprinkled with many Hebrew words. 

Schnur, Susan & Anna Schnur-Fishman.  Tashlich at Turtle Rock.  W5, S

Annie leads her family on a Rosh Hashanah hike to observe Tashlich, where each person will ask God’s forgiveness for the things they regret doing the previous year. 

Schottenfeld, Annette.  Not So Fast Max: a Rosh Hashanah Visit with Grandma.  W5,

When Max and Emily’s spunky grandma comes from Israel for a Rosh Hashanah visit, she’s got some surprises up her sleeve. Max just wants to hurry up and get started, but he learns that sometimes new traditions can be worth the wait. 

Siegel, Bruce.  The Magic of Kol Nidre: A Yom Kippur Story.  W5, S

The magic of the Kol Nidre prayer, where we ask forgiveness for promises we may make to God which we may not be able to keep, central to the Yom Kippur service, is explored from the viewpoint of three generations. 

Silverman, Erica.  When the Chickens Went On Strike: A Rosh Hashanah Tale, Adapted from a story by Sholom Aleichem.  W5, S

A Jewish boy living in Russia learns a lesson from the village chickens at the time of Rosh Hashanah. 

Soffer, Allison Sarnoff.  Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story.  W5, S

Katy looks forward to her family’s Rosh Hashanah tradition of making apple sauce from scratch, but with a new baby, will the family be too busy this year?

Unger, Richard.  Even Higher.  W5, U

In the village of Nemirov, young Reuven investigates the annual disappearance of his beloved rabbi who is rumored to ascend to heaven on the day before Rosh Hashanah to beg forgiveness for the people of Nemirov.

Wayland, April Halprin.  New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story.  W5, W

On Rosh Hashanah, Izzy and his family make lists of the wrongs they have committed over the past year, and after they have apologized, they throw pieces of bread into the water to “clean their hearts” in a ceremony called Tashlich. 

Zalben, Jane.  Happy New Year, Beni.  W5, Z

After constantly fighting with his cousin Max during the celebration for Rosh Hashanah, Beni discovers that the new year is an opportunity to put his mistakes behind him and start over. 

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