Forward Thinking

Battle Over Purim Children's Book With Two Dads

By Julie Wiener

  • Print
  • Share Share

(JTA) — The line between respecting diverse religious beliefs and violating the rights and dignity of gays and lesbians is at the center of a debate between gay advocates and the PJ Library over a children’s picture book featuring a family with two fathers.

“The Purim Superhero,” by Elisabeth Kushner, was published by Kar-Ben Publishing last year after the manuscript won a contest for Jewish-themed books with LGBT characters sponsored by Keshet, a Jewish LGBT advocacy group. It’s about a boy who turns to his two fathers for advice after his Hebrew school classmates tell him he can’t dress up as an alien for Purim.

PJ Library, the popular program that distributes free Jewish children’s books in North America and beyond, selected it as one of its featured books this month, but as an extra book distributed only to those who requested it — which, apparently, many parents did: All 2,200 copies PJ had purchased were requested within 36 hours, according to an article in The Boston Globe.

On the PJ Library blog, a trustee of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, the program’s founder and largest funder, explained that the decision to make “The Purim Superhero” by request only was made because, “like it or not, parents in our community have differing opinions about same-sex marriage and how or when it is discussed with children.”

The blog post likened distributing “The Purim Superhero” without parents first requesting it to visiting a family whose parents, “based on their sincerely held religious belief” have “made clear that a certain subject is taboo” and then bringing their child a gift that touches on the subject.

Idit Klein, executive director of Keshet, sees it differently and has told reporters that while offering the book was a “positive step,” she was also disappointed that it was by request only.

“I told [PJ Library] that this is demeaning to same-sex couples and their families — that there’s something so threatening and wrong about our families that children can only see them in a book if a parent requests it,” she told the Globe.

While the PJ Library blog post didn’t identify which members of the Jewish community might be offended by “The Purim Superhero,” the program was presumably concerned about offending Orthodox Jews, the only segment of the American Jewish community in which the traditional, homosexual-activity-is-wrong perspective remains strong.

The Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist movements all recognize same-sex marriage and allow openly gay men and women to be ordained as clergy. The 2013 American Jewish Committee Survey of American Jewish Opinion found overwhelming support for same-sex marriage: 71 percent of American Jews believe same-sex marriage should be “legal across the country,” 11 percent believe it should be “banned across the country” and 18 percent believe each state should decide for itself.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: purim superhero, pj library, lgbt, keshet, gay, elisabeth kushner, children's book

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • French Jews were stunned when an anti-Israel mob besieged a synagogue outside Paris. What happened next could be a historic turning point.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.