This article was first published in The Times of Israel.
Nate doesn’t know what type of costume to choose for Purim. His friends are all dressing up as superheroes, but Nate loves aliens and wants to go as one to the Megillah reading and holiday carnival. Like most young children, he decides to discuss his dilemma with his parents. But unlike most kids, Nate doesn’t bring the problem to his mother and father. Instead, he talks it over with his Daddy and Abba.
Nate is the protagonist of “The Purim Superhero,” the first LGBT-inclusive Jewish children’s book written in English. The little boy, his sister and their two dads represent many American Jewish families who — until now — have not seen themselves reflected in the picture books their children read in Hebrew school or bring home from the Jewish community library.
Kar-Ben Publishing, a Minneapolis-based distributor of Jewish content for kids between preschool and middle school, decided it was time to bring Nate and his gay fathers into Jewish homes and educational settings.
“We had been interested for a long time in this subject. We’d done focus groups with parents and educators, and most were interested in seeing a book like this,” said Joni Sussman, Kar-Ben‘s publisher.
“What we wanted was a story with a gay family setting, but not specifically about being a gay family. We were looking for something non-didactic about the gay issue,” Sussman explained. “What we loved about ‘The Purim Superhero’ is that it is about a boy looking for his own identity and standing up for who he is. It’s really a story about Purim and Queen Esther.”
As a married lesbian with a 12-year-old daughter, the book’s author, Elisabeth Kushner, found being a same-sex family to be a non-issue.
“I wanted to write out of my own experience and that of other gay and lesbian families we know,” the 46-year-old told The Times of Israel by phone from her home in Vancouver, Canada. “It’s really not an issue for kids or for most people in larger cities. And for kids in LGBT families, their parents’ being gay is not necessarily the main issue in their lives, and I hadn’t seen any books reflecting this reality.”
Click here to read more.
© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.