Heroes with Chutzpah

101 True Tales of Jewish Trailblazers, Changemakers & Rebels

by Deborah Bodin Cohen and Kerry Olitzky


This item will be released on August 29, 2023.

About this book

A young teenager who spoke out for gun control in front of tens of thousands.

An Israeli street artist who painted an ancient city with modern images.

A biotechnologist who led the quest for a Covid vaccine.

In Heroes with Chutzpah, readers will meet 101 Jewish changemakers from the recent past and present, who challenged the status quo in the arts, sciences, social justice, sports and politics. Each one-page biography is accompanied by an original digital portrait. This children’s book about Jewish heroes is inspiring and fun.

Heroes with Chutzpah captures the diversity of the global Jewish community, showcasing Jews of different racial backgrounds, gender and sexual identities, and religious orientations from secular to Orthodox. Instead of focusing exclusively on icons, we included an eclectic mix of both lesser-known and renowned personalities with engaging, inspiring, and meaningful stories that will resonate with children of all backgrounds.

Heroes with Chutzpah is written especially with readers ages 8 to 14 in mind. The biographies are short, just a page for each one, and the illustrations are compelling. It makes the perfect gift for B’nai Mitzvah, birthdays and Hanukkah!

In a non-graphic way, the biographies delve into topics that require a bit of maturity, for example, the Holocaust and gender and sexual identity. While younger readers could enjoy the stories, they may wish to read them with a parent or other adult. All of the heroes identify as Jewish and Judaism is a key component of many stories, but not all stories. It is appropriate for Jewish young people and for curious readers of different faith traditions.

Advance Praise

“Representation matters. The Jewish role models featured in this book help kids visualize what is possible. Meet some of the bold changemakers who emerged from the margins.”
Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Senior Rabbi, Central Synagogue, NYC

“In a time where so many in our community are feeling alone and vulnerable, it is important for us to show children and the younger generation that we are strong and resilient and that they are not alone. Kids will read the stories and be inspired and motivated to be the best that they can be.”
Rep. Alma Hernandez, Arizona State House

“Who knows which idealistic child will see themselves in a Jewish hero and themselves make a transformational impact? Countless young readers of this inspiring, age-appropriate book!”
Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center

“In these pages we meet the Jews that changed the world. What better inspiration to young people who can place their identity within the larger panoply of Jewish experience while also learning that there are no limits to what one may accomplish. The book is timely, important and really fun.”
Ted Deutsch, former Congressman

“Our kids need heroes. This book will give them who they need… The stories will take the express lane to your soul.”
Rabbi Jeff Salkin

About the Authors

Deborah Bodin Cohen has published eight picture books including the Engineer Ari series, and the teen novel Lilith’s Ark. Her books have been featured by the Grinspoon Foundation’s PJ library and received numerous honors, including a National Jewish Book Award, Sydney Taylor Honors, and notable book designations by Association of Jewish Libraries. Her books have been translated into Spanish, German and Russian. She graduated with high honors from the honors English Program at University of Michigan. She co-authored Heroes with Chutzpah and created the digital artwork.

She lives in Rockville, MD, with her husband David, three children and a rather unruly Collie named Indigo.

Dr. Kerry Olitzky was voted by Newsweek as one of the fifty leading rabbis in North America. He is the author of many books and hundreds of articles. Starting out his career as a congregational rabbi and educator, he then served on the faculty and administration of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion for 15 years. He then went on to become the vice president of the Wexner Heritage Foundation, the premier adult learning and leadership training program in the US and Canada. Kerry then became the executive director of the Jewish Outreach Institute (later named Big Tent Judaism) which he led for twenty years. This organization focused on outreach to those on the periphery of the community with an emphasis on reaching those who are intermarried. His most recent children’s books include: Where’s the Potty on this Ark? and The Littlest Candle: A Hanukkah Story, which was Amazon’s no. 1 new release in the Jewish children’s category.

He lives in New Jersey. He and his wife have two sons, both rabbis, and seven grandchildren.

Together, Kerry and Debbie have authored a number of children’s books, including the soon-to-be-released A Welcoming Seder Story for Passover (Kalaniot Books).