Gaining evocative knowledge, aka review of That Jewish Moment by Sari Kopitnikoff
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I couldn’t step out from my own perspective when absorbing Sari Kopitnikoff‘s book That Jewish Moment: Positive Thoughts and Moments from Life as an Observant Jew and I don’t think anyone could or should. As a non-orthodox Jew, who studied sociology I was experiencing the information conveyed in it and the feelings evoking by it as an insider and as an outsider at the same time. For me the focus was more on the feelings than on the information, but depending on your background you may have it the other way around.
The purpose of the book, the pictures and captions in it and the stories of how it came to being is all about capturing and evoking the feelings one can have through being and practicing Jewish. I can wholeheartedly say it has accomplished that. If you are of Jewish persuasion and not opposed to religion (and to some extent Zionism) you will utterly enjoy this book. It probably reflects some of your own experiences and the warm, proud, brave, intimate, connected … feelings you want to pass to your children. So from an emic perspective it is an outstanding accomplishments.
Being Jewish I cannot be an objective judge of the book from the etic, outside perspective. However I have a feeling that for non-Jews and non-religious Jews it may evoke no feelings. On the other hand it may evoke curiosity about the topics and specific covered in any of the images. The book started on social media, namely as a series of Instagram posts. (For those of us who like numbers: at the time of writing this review the That Jewish Moment Instagram account has 313 posts and about 19500 followers. ) The nature of social media is that anyone can comment under a post/image, so this media is efficient at asking questions and getting answers. Hence the author, who is not just a graphic artist but also a Jewish educator, could accomplish her goal: educate anyone interested about Judaism.
I praise her efforts, persistence and success in reaching these goals and numbers. The 100+ pages long book goes beyond its six major sections, organized around topics like Shabbat, Jewish holidays, Israel, American holidays, special moments, and has games, a glossary and introduction/acknowledgment and ides on how to use the book too. My favorite portions though are the ones that allows us to peek “Behind the Scenes” for each section. There we learn bits about how certain images evolved, what were the prompts behind them, what decisions were made before they got finalized. Those are just as fascinating for me the end results.
While I enjoyed the images and captions and am following now the Instagram account to get the new posts I have some minor issues about the design and/or the print version of the book. It is possible that it happened only in my copy of the book but the captions for a lot of the images were either not dark enough (i.e. printed with gray ink instead of black) or they got misprinted as they look misaligned. This is particularly prominent and makes harder to read the text when there are 4-5 images on a page. I also think that left aligning the captions would have been easier on the eye. That’s how both on the phone and the desktop version of Instagram is the text. I understand that when there is a single image on a page the center aligned text looks better. But most pages have more than one image/caption and there it is not the case in my opinion. A last not about the text: I am aware of two, sometimes contradicting design principles for when/how to break longer text into several lines: at logical break and make sure if possible that the lower lines are longer than the upper ones. Neither of these principles were applied, the texts were broken automatically based on how many letters/words fit in a line. It is one my pet peeves that I don’t consider important but it influenced my reading experience.
Everything I mentioned in the last paragraphs are minor issues that are not taking away anything from the value of the book. It can be a great gift for any youth (or adult) who you want to feel more connected to Judaism.
Disclaimer: I have received a copy of this book from the author for review.
The official short description of the book:
The stirring sound of the shofar, munching on a bagel and cream cheese sandwich, passing windows with lit menorahs, and spotting a kippah in an unexpected place… There are so many reasons to celebrate Jewish life. The popular Instagram series, That Jewish Moment, has earned the affection of thousands of Jews of all ages, backgrounds, and parts of the globe. They unite by the vivid and heartfelt images of moments in Jewish life. As the readers turn the bright pages in this book, feelings of nostalgia, excitement, and pride will fill their hearts. This collection contains over 250 original illustrations and captions featuring the special Jewish moments in life, along with behind the scenes stories, interactive activities, and a bunch of never-been-seen-before drawings. Welcome to That Jewish Moment.
Links of interest:
- That Jewish Moment’s Instagram account
- Sari Kopitnikoff’s Etsy shop
- Reviews of the book: Jewish Link NJ, Jewish Mom, The Jewish Link
Year first published: 2019