Heroes with Chutzpah

101 True Tales of Jewish Trailblazers, Changemakers & Rebels

by Deborah Bodin Cohen and Kerry Olitzky


In stock (can be backordered)

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).

101 Heroes with Chutzpah

Sarah Silverman Outspoken Actor & Comedian

Yossi Abramowitz Solar Farmer known as “Captain Sunshine”

Elie Wiesel Witness, Writer & Activist for Tolerance

Gertrude “Trudy” Elion Pioneering Female Scientist

Sally Priesand First Female Rabbi in the United States

Regina Jonas Trailblazing Rabbi, Hidden & Forgotten

Deborah Lipstadt Holocaust Historian & Ambassador

David Saperstein Rabbi Lobbyist of Capitol Hill

Lynne Landsberg Rabbi & Disability Advocate

Kivie Kaplan Civil Rights Activist & NAACP President

Bob Dylan Legendary Folk-Rock Songwriter & Singer

Debbie Friedman Revolutionary Writer of Jewish Music

Leonard Cohen Poetic Songwriter, Soulful Singer

Albert Bourla Pfizer CEO during the Covid Epidemic

Jonas Salk Scientist who Developed the Polio Vaccine

Frida Kahlo Mexican Artist & Political Radical

Maurice Sendak Children’s Illustrator & Author

Stan Lee Writer, Editor & Publisher at Marvel Comics

Judith Resnik NASA Astronaut

Anna Sokolow Dancer, Choreographer & Activist

Bella Savitzky Abzug Congresswoman & Ardent Feminist

Jamie Raskin Congressman & Constitutional Attorney

Elena Kagan Supreme Court Justice

Sara Hurwitz Groundbreaking Orthodox Rabbinic Leader

Helen Suzman Legislator who Fought Apartheid

Gershom Sizomu Ugandan Rabbi & Statesman

Anat Hoffman Israeli Civil & Religious Rights Activist

Mark Spitz Olympic Swimming Champion

Ágnes Keleti Olympic Gymnast & Coach

Yosef Yekutieli Founder of the Maccabiah Games

Douglas Emhoff Attorney & U.S. Second Gentleman

Ralph Lauren Iconic Fashion Designer

Annie Leibovitz Famed Portrait Photographer

Volodymyr Zelenskyy President & Defender of Ukraine

Avital Sharansky Soviet Jewry Activist

Claudia Sheinbaum Pardo Mayor of Mexico City

Simcha Blass Israeli Inventor of Drip Irrigation

Hedy Lamarr Actor, Model & Inventor

Gal Gadot Actor and Feminist

Yityish “Titi” Aynaw Israeli Beauty Queen from Ethiopia

Naomi Wadler Student Activist for Gun Control

Steven Spielberg Renowned Director, Producer & Screenwriter

Itzhak Perlman Virtuoso on Violin

Aaron Lansky Founder of the Yiddish Book Center

Leonard Nimoy Actor, Best Known as Star Trek’s Spock

Mayim Bialik Actor, Writer & Neuroscientist

Judy Blume Groundbreaking Novelist for Kids & Teens

Idina Menzel Singer & Actor called Queen of Broadway

Natalie Portman Award-winning Actor & Activist

Moe Berg Baseball Catcher, Linguist & Spy

Sandy Koufax All-Star Baseball Pitcher

Randi Weingarten Labor Leader & Attorney

Bernie Sanders Senator Committed to Economic Equity

Joseph Lieberman Orthodox Senator & Israel Advocate

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Supreme Court Justice & Feminist Leader

Joe Levin, Jr. Leading Civil Rights Attorney

Simone Veil Esteemed European Parliament President

Simon Wiesenthal Holocaust Survivor & Nazi Hunter

Moshe Safdie Architect who Transformed Jerusalem

Frank Gehry Visionary International Architect

Amit Goffer Inventor of Standing Wheelchair

Barbara Walters Celebrated Broadcast Journalist

Gloria Steinem Journalist & Feminist Activist

Stosh Cotler Activist & Community Mobilizer

Angela Warnick Buchdahl Korean-American Rabbi

Michael Twitty Award-Winning Food Historian

Rachel Cowan Trailblazing Rabbi for Inclusion

Andrew Goodman Freedom Rider & Martyr for Civil Rights

Harvey Milk Pioneering Gay Elected Official

Eytan Fox Innovative Israeli Film Director

Emerich “Imi” Lichtenfeld Martial Artist, founder of Krav Maga

Uzia Galil Founding Father of High-Tech in Israel

Sheryl Sandberg Technology Executive & Author

Aly Raisman Olympic Gymnastic Champion

Paula Abdul Energetic Singer, Songwriter & Dancer

Daveed Diggs Actor & Rapper, Best Known for Hamilton

Jacobo Timerman Argentine Journalist & Political Dissident

Miguel Najdorf Renowned Chess Grandmaster

David Ben-Gurion First Prime Minister of Israel

Yitzhak Rabin Israeli Soldier, Prime Minister, Peacemaker

Edward Kessler Interfaith Relations Thought Leader

Eddie Jacobson Best Friends with a President

Isaac Mizrahi Self-Made Fashion Designer

Jennie Grossinger Resort Owner Committed to Integration

Red Auerbach Basketball Coaching Legend

Sue Bird WNBA Basketball Star

Janet Yellen Secretary of the Treasury

Danny Siegel Educator, Poet & Tzedakah Hero

Amichai Lau-Lavie Rabbi, Organizer, Performance Artist

Abby Stein Rabbi & Transgender Activist

Daniel Radcliffe Actor & Activist, Living with a Disability

Rebecca Dubowe Rabbinic Leader with Hearing Loss

Alma Hernandez State Legislator

Moacyr Scliar Brazilian Physician & Writer

Ann Landers & Abigail Van Buren Twin Advice Columnists

Becky Silverstein Gender-Bending Rabbi & LGBTQ Activist

Judith Love Cohen NASA Engineer Dedicated to Girls in Sciences

Arno Penzias German Refugee & Nobel-winning Physicist

Solomon Souza Street Artist Who is Painting the World

Mel Blanc The Man of a Thousand Voices