Call for Papers: Orthodox Childhoods

Mussar Avicha, Toras Imecha:
Texts, Songs, and Cultural Artifacts of Orthodox Childhoods

edited by Dainy Bernstein
forthcoming from Ben Yehuda Press

Childhood and adolescent experiences are shaped by the artifacts available to children and adolescents. The books they read, the toys they play with, the songs they sing, etc., all affect and shape specific cultural childhoods. The cultural artifacts of Orthodox Jewish childhood and adolescence – including Modern Orthodox and Haredi artifacts – are a rich and virtually unmined resource for understanding Orthodox Jewish communities, ideologies, and practices. This volume aims to provide insight into the experience of Orthodox Jewish childhood and adolescence through essays about these artifacts.

We invite submissions of essays focusing on artifacts of Orthodox Jewish childhood which tell a story about Orthodox childhood experiences.

Essays should address most or all of these questions, not necessarily in this order:

  • What is the artifact? What does it look, smell, taste, feel, or sound like?
  • Who created the artifact? When? Where?
  • When and where was the artifact generally used? By whom?
  • What is your personal experience with / memory of this artifact?
  • What is the significance of this artifact to an understanding of Orthodox childhood?

Full albums of story tapes and music tapes can be found on this website: (Search for Shmuel Kunda, JEP, Miami Boys Choir, Tzlil V’Zemer, Amudai Shaish, Pirchei, etc.)

Possible cultural artifacts include but are not limited to:

  • books from Orthodox publishers: picture books, short story collections, chapter books, teen novels, magazines for children
  • Orthodox music tapes and story tapes (and videos) for children: the Shmuel Kunda series, the Marvelous Middos Machine series, Country Yossi, 613 Torah Avenue, Uncle Moishy, Kivi and Tuki, Rabbi Juravel, Pirchei, JEP
  • material artifacts from Orthodox childhoods: Torah Cards, Gedolim Cards, board games
  • Orthodox educational material: textbooks from Orthodox publishers, school publications (newsletters, yearbooks, etc), handouts, worksheets, curricula
  • songs from summer camps, youth groups, school plays
  • skipping or handclapping songs, games that leave no physical trace


March 1, 2021


Contributors will get a free copy of the book. If enough copies sell to generate royalties, they will be divided among contributors.

About the editor:

Dainy Bernstein is a PhD student at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. They are working on their dissertation, which focuses on Haredi children’s literature between the years 1980 and 2000, the years of their own childhood and adolescence in Boro Park, Brooklyn. They also teach courses on medieval literature, children’s literature, and Young Adult literature at Lehman College.

About the publisher:

Ben Yehuda Press’s mission is to provide a home for books which exist outside the prescribed parameters for a “Jewish book.” Their titles typically don’t fall into any of the niches claimed by existing Jewish publishing companies – but aren’t of wide enough interest – that is to say, sufficiently pareve – to interest a general publisher.

Orthodox Childhoods

Please send submissions and pitches to editor Dainy Bernstein for the forthcoming Orthodox Childhoods anthology via this form.

  • Briefly: What is the book about? Why do you think there's an audience for it?
  • Accepted file types: doc, docx, rtf, Max. file size: 25 MB.
    Please attach the full or partial manuscript in Word format.
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