The Christmas Mitzvah

  • Interest Level: Preschool - Grade 2
  • Reading Level: Grade 1

Al Rosen, a Jewish man, takes on the jobs of his Christian neighbors on Christmas Eve and day so they can spend the holiday with their families, starting a tradition that lasts for decades.

A mitzvah, as Al explains, is a good deed, especially apt on holidays. A strong cross-over read, this warm story is about kindness and differences bringing people together.

This book was selected as a Best Jewish Children’s Book of 2021 by Tablet Magazine and is a Sydney Taylor honor award!

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Interest Level Preschool - Grade 2
Reading Level Grade 1
Genre Picture Books
Category Diverse Books: Celebrating Differences , Diversity, Holidays, SEL: C Social Awareness, SEL: D Relationship Skills, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2021
Publisher Creston Books
Imprint Creston Books
Language English
Number of Pages 40
Publication Date 2021-09-07
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV017000, JUV039220, JUV033000
Dewey [E]
Dimensions 9 x 11
Lexile 630
Features Awards, Original artwork, Reviewed, Teaching Guides, and eSource

Author: Jeff Gottesfeld

Jeff Gottesfeld writes for page, stage, screen, and television. He's won many awards, including ones from the American Library Association, the Association of Jewish Libraries, and the Writer's Guild. His most recent title The Christmas Mitzvah was named a Sydney Taylor Honor Book. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Illustrator: Michelle Laurentia Agatha

Michelle Laurentia Agatha was born in Indonesia. She's always had a huge interest in cartoons and illustrated books. Michelle earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. Her most recent book, The Christmas Mitzvah, was named a Sydney Taylor Honor Book.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

The Christmas Mitzvah

Al Rosen, a Jewish man, takes on the jobs of his Christian neighbors on Christmas Eve and day so they can spend the holiday with their families, starting a tradition that lasts for decades. A mitzvah, as Al explains, is a good deed, especially apt on holidays. A… View available downloads →


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  • Sydney Taylor Honor Book, Commended, 2022
  • Tablet Magazine Best Jewish Kids Book, Winner, 2021


Jewish Book Council

The Christmas Mitvzah will leave the reader with a warm, gratifying feeling and a desire to find people in need of help who they can assist in ways large and small.”—Jewish Book Council

Association of Jewish Libraries

“This lovely book represents the epitome of interfaith, interracial, and intergenerational interaction. People of all social classes, ethnicities, sizes and shapes are represented in the charming, down-to-earth illustrations. This is the perfect story to demonstrate that our differences do not need to divide us, rather they can serve as a wonderful opportunity to bring us together. A wonderful winter holiday book for the entire community.”—Association of Jewish Libraries

School Library Journal

“This inspirational cross-cultural story, based on true events, captures the holiday spirit . . . the message is a worthy one and the writing is clear, concise, and accessible. The cartoon-style illustrations are humorous and appealing, depicting a multicultural cast [with] a vibrant color palette that draws the eye and creates effective pacing[.]”—School Library Journal

The Horn Book Magazine

“Per the straightforward text, Al ran a newsstand, pumped gas, sorted mail, shined shoes, and much more. Cheerful digital illustrations show him gamely going about the tasks . . . [A]t the end of the book, everyone whom Al had helped—’all the folks easy to dismiss in a world that mistakes wealth for worth’—gratifyingly comes together to celebrate Hanukkah with his family.”—The Horn Book Magazine

Publishers Weekly

“Gottesfeld succeeds in highlighting a compassionate lesson of community care, and the importance of turning kindheartedness into action.”—Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“A heartwarming slice of neighborly love, caring, and sharing.”—Kirkus Reviews