Ready to Laugh? Five Jewish Books That Will Have Readers Chuckling

A kid looking out the window with binoculars

Through times of adversity, the Jewish people have used humor not only to survive but to thrive. How did humor become such a common component of Jewish stories? Explanations are abundant, including the fact that the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) contains irony and that humor is evident in the extensive legal arguments of the Talmud (the texts comprising Jewish law).

It’s no secret that comedy and the Jewish people are intertwined. From hilarious horas and high hula-holidays to dizzy dreidels and bark mitzvahs, the jokes, puns, and knock-knocks in the following list of books are thoroughly – and hilariously – Jewish.

Best Kids' Jewish Holiday Jokes Ever!

by Highlights

Readers will love this illustrated book filled with over 500 delightful (and wholesome!) Jewish jokes about Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, Passover, and other holidays.

Chelm for the Holidays

by Valerie Estelle Frankel

People say that when the angels distributed silliness throughout the world, their bowl tipped over and all the silliness spilled onto the town of Chelm. How do Chelmites know their Elders are the best at solving problems? Because they have the longest beards! This quick and easy read is great for younger kids.


by Yehudi Mercado

This is a fictionalized graphic memoir about Yehudi Mercado’s experience as a Jewish Mexican boy growing up in Texas in the 1980s. He's fat and funny, but his super-athletic father wants him to be an athlete. We see Hudi try multiple sports without much luck, before finally turning to football, where his size is an advantage. However, Hudi is clearly giving up a part of himself – his humor and kindness – when he follows the coach’s instructions to intentionally injure players on the other team. Ultimately, Hudi finds his way back to his true self and his true passion, the stage. Adding humor and pathos is Chunky, Hudi’s imaginary friend and mascot. Both text and art are amusing in this fast-paced story featuring a very relatable protagonist.

Mort Ziff is Not Dead

by Cary Fagan

It’s the winter of 1965, and Norman Fishbein has decided to use his contest winnings to fly his family from their home in Toronto to Palm Beach. Over the course of the week’s vacation, Norman makes friends with a girl his age and finds a new way to connect with his older brothers as they work together to help an aging comedian keep his job at the luxury hotel where they are staying. This heartwarming story of a young boy who takes his family on the trip of a lifetime — in more ways than one — will introduce young readers to a different era in Jewish American history.

The Rabbi Harvey series

by Steve Sheinkin

In the fictitious town of Elk Spring, Colorado, circa 1870, Rabbi Harvey shares Talmudic wisdom, Jewish folktales (and a lot more!) through a number of short, humorous adventures.


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