Jewish Comics & Jewish Stories!

To my great delight, I’ve had several opportunities this kayitz (summer) so far to connect with chanichim (campers) across camp to talk about Jewish comics and telling Jewish stories!

During the first few days of the kayitz, I participated in a wonderful Yom Meyuchad (special day) for adat ha-Nivonim (our oldest campers), that was all about using one’s personal story and personal journey as the basis for creating art.  I worked with a group of kids interested in comic books and graphic novels!  We talked about how to tap into one’s own story to use that as a starting point for creating art that has meaning, and then each participant illustrated a comic book page of their own.

Then last week I was invited back to Nivonim, to meet with their whole edah.  I presented artwork from José and the Pirate Captain Toledano, the graphic novel that I illustrated and that was written by Arnon Shorr (Ramah Kishroniyah filmmaking instructor).  I talked with the Nivonimers about the importance of telling Jewish stories, and we chatted about Jewish representation in media.  Specifically, we talked about finding ways to tell different types of Jewish stories, centering around different types of Jewish characters than the often-cliche versions seen in American TV shows and movies.  I showed the kids the original short film, The Pirate Captain Toledano, written & directed by Arnon Shorr.  The kids LOVED the film!!  After watching the film, we looked at all the ways in which Arnon and I tried to incorporate Sephardic Jewish elements into our graphic novel.  I can’t wait to see the art these Nivonim kids will someday create, telling the stories that are important to them!

I have also had the opportunity, over the past two weeks, to run a “Ma Ramah” group for adat ha-Machon!  “Ma Ramah” literally means “What is Ramah?”  For these older Tzad Bet campers, we run programming designed to get them to start thinking about what the Ramah experience is all about; how and why it works.  In my group, which has met every other day since the start of camp, the kids did a number of writing exercises designed to get them thinking about how Ramah has affected them positively, and memorable moments and experiences they’ve each had at camp.  Once each participant identified a particularly meaningful memory, we set about to illustrate those stories as a comic book page!  Check out some of the great work these young artists created!  (I was especially tickled by the one that seems to have been inspired by my Shabbat morning stories…!)

José and the Pirate Captain Toledano is a swashbuckling adventure story about Jewish pirates; it’s also a coming-of-age story about a boy who discovers his Jewish heritage.  The graphic novel is available on Amazon.  Or, if you order directly from the publisher Kar-Ben, they are offering a special discount for Ramah families!  Use the discount code RAMAH.