What is Jewish About Respecting Differences?

There are many values and concepts in Judaism that emphasize the importance of respecting and learning from others. Adam yehidi nivra, for example, means, “every person is a unique creation." This means appreciating the wonderful things that make each person an individual and celebrating differences.

Another concept, lomed mikol adam, shows us how much each person has to offer. Because everyone has something they can teach us, we know that we can learn from each person's unique gifts.

Finally, we give kavod or respect, because it is the right thing to do. By teaching children to celebrate differences, we help them view the world through multiple perspectives.

 

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The books in the lists below feature diverse characters, multi-ethnic families, as well as characters learning to get along and respect each other despite differences. For more great book lists, visit the MORE section.

Reading Tips:

PJ Library Books

Across the Alley
Chik Chak Shabbat
Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup
Mrs. Katz and Tush

The Only One Club
The Mitten String
The Legend of Freedom Hill

Find all PJ Library books about respecting differences.
Find all PJ Library books about multi-ethnic families.
Find all PJ Library books about learning from everyone.

PJ Our Way Books:

The Saturday Secret
Stealing Home
The Storyteller's Beads
The Whole Story of Half a Girl
When the Hurricane Came

 

WATCH

For Kids:


On Shalom Sesame, Sivan makes a new friend who introduces her to a wheelchair accessible park:

Some parents may recognize this classic Sesame Street song:

For Parents:


 

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Play with toys that represent diverse groups of people

One easy way to help your children accept and understand differences is to play with toys that represent various types of people. Here are two great sites to check out:

A Mighty Girl
Toy Like Me
Wonder Crew

Try new foods

Respecting and understanding diversity is also part of learning about kavod. Cooking and tasting foods from different cultures is a great way to organically introduce children to diversity. Pick a type of food that your family likes to eat together: soup, bread, or dips, for example, and look at the ways different cultures and countries make and eat that food.

Learn other languages

How to Say "Hello" in 21 Different Languages via Time

Embrace what makes you different or special

Like Elmo and "Miss Lupita" in the clip above, teach your child to celebrate what makes them unique and special.

Be honest and direct

While reinforcing the message that we're all the same on the inside is beautiful, it's also important to encourage children to recognize and accept differences. The site, Kiddie Matters points out: "so many adults tell children things like “we don’t see color” and “we are all the same on the inside.” The truth is, people do come in different colors. It is more important that children learn to accept others for who they are instead of pretending that differences don’t exist."

Kids can be blunt which is both startling and fantastic at the same time. While it may be tempting to shush a child if they point out that someone is different from them, go ahead and make it a teaching moment. If a child accidentally says something offensive, gently correct them and explain that what they said can hurt someone's feelings.

 

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Looking for more articles, tips, and book lists? Check out:

Parenting articles and resources:

25 Resources for Teaching Kids About Diversity via Multicultural Kid Blogs
How to Teach Children About Cultural Awareness and Diversity via PBS Parents
5 Tips for Making Playdates Fun For Everyone

Alike and Different via PBS Kids

Book lists:

WeNeedDiverseBooks.org
7 Jewish Books for Kids That Promote Diversity via kveller.com
Picture Books That Teach Kids to Combat Racism via What Do We Do All Day
14 Children's Books With Multi-Racial Families via What Do We Do All Day
How to Talk to Your Kids About Prejudice With the Help of 12 of our Favorite Books via Cool Mom Picks

Do you have any tips for teaching your children about respecting differences? Share your stories with us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. Don't forget to add #pjlibrary to your post.

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