Friday, August 19, 2022

Within the last month, two of Sari Kopitnikoff’s works have been published and both earned top spots in Amazon’s best sellers lists. “My Davening Diary,” published in November 2021, was listed as the No. 1 Jewish Prayer Book. Following shortly after was “Jewmagine That!,” which ranked as No. 1 New Release in Children’s Books on Judaism. Both works, published by Ideastrator Press, are on their way to distributors and should be available shortly at local Judaica stores.

“My Davening Diary” is a 150-page “daily journal featuring prompts and activities to help you get into a prayer mindset.” Prior to the actual daily diary section, Kopitnikoff has provided prompts that help readers assess what their relationship to davening currently is, such as: How do you relate to God? What were some special occasions when you felt God in your life? What would you like to ask God? Who are the special people in your life for whom you are grateful? What special images or music help you concentrate on your prayers? The diary itself focuses on the particular day’s mood, concerns and goals for prayer. Kopitnikoff’s goal for the users of the diary is to see actual progress in developing a personal relationship with daily prayer so that it becomes an effective activity for establishing a better and closer relationship with God.

“Jewmagine That!” offers “fun and creative drawing activities for kids.” Geared to children who are 7 and older, the book begins with a section of symmetry challenges: half-completed images of Jewish symbolic items that the child is asked to complete. As the book progresses, the child is asked to “complete the picture” and add missing details to scenes taken from Jewish rituals and holidays such as finding the afikomen at the Seder, saying the Tashlich prayers near a body of water, greeting dressed-up visitors on Purim and guiding a tour through Israel. The final section invites the child to create a complete scene of their own such as a story from the Torah or a holy place they have visited. Kopitnikoff’s message to readers is, “Hi, I’m Sari. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pen in my hand and I’m excited to be your guide… No matter your art skill and no matter your doodling experience, these pages contain hours of fun to bring out your inner artist and Jewmaginer.”

Kopitnikoff brings her actual life experiences to the pages of these two exciting works. She admits to having been an avid doodler as a child. Her teaching experience exposed her to children who needed the comfort of doodling to help them concentrate on their learning. Armed with a master’s in Jewish education, one of her first teaching assignments was as a middle school teacher. Part of her responsibility was overseeing the morning davening. What she encountered initially was total chaos and lack of involvement from most of the students. She made it her first mission to bring order and meaning to this part of the children’s learning day. By supplying each student with a blank notebook and providing them with daily prompts and ideas to focus on before beginning to daven, within a few short weeks she was able to inject a tone of attention and import to the davening period. “My Davening Diary” is an outgrowth of this successful teaching experience.

Kopitnikoff’s two new works are not her first foray into the Jewish world of media. In 2014 she founded @thatjewishmoment, an Instagram page through which she aimed to spread Jewish positivity to combat the proliferating cynical Jewish posts she was seeing all over the internet. The pandemic posed another opportunity for her to spread her messages as homebound families were searching for online activities to keep their families engaged during their seclusion. “That Jewish Moment” morphed into hundreds of posts and original materials, which offer messages and activities highlighting the beauty, joy, thoughtfulness and even humor of Judaism. “That Jewish Moment” celebrates being Jewish and engenders pride. Kopitnikoff has resources for all of the major Jewish holidays, including games, riddles and activities. Kopitnikoff’s activities are available to schools and educators as well as to families or small holiday gatherings. Her “Chanucandle Hunt” provides a digital escape-room activity and was played by hundreds of kids, teens and adults last year.

To date, Kopitnikoff counts over 20,000 followers to @thatjewishmoment. Subscribers are from all denominations of Judaism and also include non-Jews who are interested in learning more about Judaism. Kopitnikoff currently devotes most of her time, aside from caring for her two young children, to creating exciting, motivational educational materials for her online and reading audiences. To connect with Sari Kopitnikoff or find her books and games, go to www.thatjewishmoment.com.

By Pearl Markovitz


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