Jewish Summer Camp—a Powerful Vehicle for Jewish Continuity

Jewish summer overnight camp has been a powerful force for Jewish continuity for my daughters and for many of their friends.  Now grown, having moved out of our home, and living in distant cities they keep their Jewish connections, often by reuniting with their Jewish summer camp friends.  They started as the youngest campers and stayed until they were counselors in college.

BTW: Camp Ramah New England at Palmer is celebrating its 60th year, May 19, 2013, 10:30 AM – 3:00 PM:  All are welcome!

Of course there are many different Jewish summer camp experiences, but here is a Jewish summer camp story for teens, Falling in Love, modeled in part on the Camp Ramah experience.

Regardless of what you may think of this story, please encourage your Jewish children to attend Jewish summer camp as a primary vehicle for Jewish continuity.

And watch this blog for news about and excerpts from my upcoming novel for Jewish young adults, The Uncertain Art of Hooking Up, as well as more stories from Also, feel welcome to check out my paperback book for Jewish children: Miracles–stories for Jewish children and their families. (All the stories are available for online at

You also can follow this blog, American Jew, on Twitter, @storyauthor1225


How Can Hope Counter Despair

Talk about despair, yesterday Boston experienced a terrorist attack. Two explosions occurred at the Boston Marathon finish line, killing three people (including a child) and wounding many more, some critically. As a nation, unfortunately, we have seen this before. (This blogger was a few miles up the Marathon route cheering on the late stragglers and never heard the explosions.)

AIPAC sent out the following message today: Sixty-five years ago, the modern state of Israel was born, and brought freedom, hope and opportunity to its citizens. It’s fitting that this year’s Yom Ha’atzmaut follows on the heels of our Patriots’ Day. Instead of sending a traditional greeting, today we thought it best to share what Israeli President Shimon Peres said about the bombings yesterday. His words are personal, and we hope they find meaning and comfort for you as well. “When it comes to events like this, all of us are one family,” he said. “We feel a part of the people who paid such a high price. G-d bless them.”

Jews understand terror. Thousands of missiles still rain down on southern Israel, terrorizing people almost weekly.

The Jewish holiday of Lag Ba’Omer occurs in less than two weeks, Sun., April. 28. Lag Ba’Omer, part way between Pesach and Shavuot, remembers hope in a time of despair. Most American Jews barely notice Lag Ba’Omer and fewer could tell you what it is about. This story, Despair and Hope, was written to explain Lag Ba’Omer to children attending Shabbat services at Temple Reyim, Newton MA., coincidentally located directly on the Marathon route approaching mile 18.

Feel welcome to check out all the stories on

And watch this blog for news about and excerpts from my upcoming novel for Jewish young adults, The Uncertain Art of Hooking Up, as well as more stories from There you also can find my paperback book: Miracles–stories for Jewish children and their families.

Please follow my blog on Twitter, American Jew, which focuses on Jewish continuity through storytelling, @storyauthor1225

Love and Respect: A Crucial Lesson for Teens

Here is a scene that could be from one of this father’s worst nightmares:

  • “I hit her. She deserved it. She said she was going to leave me.”
  • “The jealousy at first was flattering; it made me feel important.”
  • “He yells at her all the time.”
  • “I didn’t tell my parents because I didn’t think they’d believe me.”

It is part of a program put on by young people one Sunday in Pittsburg. These are words generally not spoken aloud by Jewish young adults, but they were spoken on that Sunday as Jewish teenagers and young adults performed dating violence scenarios for an audience of their peers. The dramatization was part of a program by the Jewish Domestic Abuse Violence Task Force of Pittsburgh at a symposium entitled “Tools for Building Healthy Dating Relationships” You can find more about it here.

As the father of two Jewish women one of my worst nightmares was that they might get trapped in an abusive relationship. I didn’t know how to tell them to be aware of abusive dating relationships. But abusive relationships among Jewish families happen just as they happen in society at large.

My mother worried I would marry a non-Jewish girl, which I might have but in the end didn’t. That was my mother’s worry; mine was either of my girls getting entangled in an abusive relationship. If I lectured they would roll their eyes. If I tried to put strict controls on whom they could see they would get around that. So, I wrote a story, Love and Respect. You can find it here. Please note: the language in this story can be graphic and disturbing, which was intended.

This story is posted on the website Check it out to find more of my stories for Jewish teens and children.

And watch this blog for news about and excerpts from my upcoming novel for Jewish young adults, The Uncertain Art of Hooking Up, as well as more stories from There you also can find my paperback book: Miracles–stories for Jewish children and their families.

Follow my blog, American Jew, that focuses on Jewish continuity through storytelling, @storyauthor1225

Win Jewish Teens with Song of Songs

At services in synagogues around the world his past Shabbat (3/30) most congregations read Song of Songs (Shir Ha’Shirim). If a sacred text is ever to grab the attention of teens this will be it. Have you ever read it? I think of it as the sexiest sacred Jewish text. The first line goes: “Oh, give me of the kisses of your mouth/ For your love is more delightful than wine…” and it continues in that vein right through the end.

The rabbis teach that this is about the love of God for the collective people of Israel. OK, on one level. But tell that to teens with hormones shooting out their ears. Want them to pay attention at synagogue, just sit them down and have them go around the room reading it out loud.  Be prepared to put up with a certain amount of snickering, but you’ll make your point—Jewish texts rock.

Once you grab them with Song of Songs you can then turn your attention to the lives of patriarchs. No lack of hormone driving material there or take a look at Mrs. Potiphar’s attempted seduction of Joseph in Egypt.

Take a look at my story The Sexiest Jewish Sacred Text. It is a brief except from the upcoming young adult novel The Uncertain Art of Hooking Up.  Watch this blog for more information and excerpts from the book. Check out all my Jewish teen stories at  Follow Twitter:  @storyauthor1225

Jerusalem—Undivided Capital of Israel

Why should the title of this post be controversial?  The Jews have inhabited Jerusalem since before the time of King David. The haftorah I read at my bar mitzvah told the story of King David bringing the Torah to Jerusalem for the first time and dancing nearly naked in the streets with it as the young women cheered him on. His wife, the daughter of King Saul, was none too pleased.

And the centerpiece of Jerusalem is the Kotel, the western wall of the ancient Temple’s foundation. You can visit the Kotel 24×7 through the power of a webcam. The one I prefer is here; this should come up to the live view. If not, just click live view. The webcam is maintained by

Encounter at the Kotel is a story I wrote for teens.  It is an excerpt from my upcoming book for teens, The Uncertain Art of Hooking Up.  Feel welcome to circulate the link and please spread the word of this upcoming book and this blog.

In subsequent posts I will tell you more about The Uncertain Art of Hooking Up. It is a love story about a secular Jewish high school basketball player who meets a beautiful strictly Orthodox girl. I wrote this book because I have daughters and grew concerned when I heard among them and their friends terms like hooking up getting freely tossed about.

Please follow my blog, American Jew, that focuses on Jewish continuity through storytelling; Twitter @storyauthor1225

Pour out Your love

As noted previously, this blog focuses on Jewish continuity, primarily through stories.

Well, as we prepare for Pesach, let’s look at the Haggadah, possibly is the first example of multi-media, interactive storytelling. It tells about the Jews’ exodus from Egypt and is full of action, plagues, blood, and death along with a happy ending and activities for anybody who wants to become involved.

But there is one paragraph that troubles some Jews, particularly liberal Jews. It comes shortly after the third cup of wine and calls on God to wreak vengeance on those who persecute the Jews with the words: Pour out your wrath….

A young rabbi, Shira Wallach, who will be ordained this spring, introduced me through a dvar she gave recently to the Worms Haggadah of 1521, attributed to the descendants of Rashi. It added a surprisingly modern sentiment that can replace the troubling pour-out-your-wrath statement:

Pour out Your love on the nations who have known You,and on the kingdoms that call upon Your name. For they have shown loving-kindness to the seed of Jacob, and they defended Your people Israel from those who would devour them alive. May they live to see the sukkah of peace spread over Your chosen ones, and to participate in the joy of Your nations. –source,

Of course, I have my own Pesach story online. The Wicked Child.   It also is included in my paperback book, Miracles–stories for Jewish children and their families. Or check out all my stories for Jewish children and teens at

Chag Pesach Semeach!

For more, please follow my blog, American Jew, that focuses on Jewish continuity through storytelling; Twitter @storyauthor1225

Welcome to American Jew


I’m Alan Radding. This blog addresses the issue of Jewish continuity, mainly through the vehicle of stories, an ancient and proven way of communicating Jewish culture and identity going all the way back to Bereshit.

My Jewish stories website,, currently is my primary vehicle. There you will find stories for children, teens, and young adults (adults are allowed to read them too).

You also can find a selection of those stories in Miracles, Stories for Jewish children and their families, a paperback book. You are welcome to buy the paperback, although you can read the stories online or just download them for free. The point is not to sell books but to drive Jewish continuity through the dissemination of stories. Please enjoy these stories and tell others about them.

Upcoming blog posts will feature samples of Jewish stories, news of Jewish and Israel activities, related re-posts, and links to interesting Jewish and Israel material that address Jewish continuity in various ways.

Feel welcome to comment.