I was heartbroken when my son, a tech sergeant and Jewish lay leader in the Air Force, informed me that he and his family would be moving to London from Charleston, S.C., where they were stationed at the time. It was Thanksgiving of 2021, and everyone was excited except me. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see my grandkids anymore. However, as time passed, I found a way to connect with my granddaughter, Abi, who was just learning to read when they moved.
Despite the distance, and thanks to FaceTime, Abi and I were able to read aloud to each other and see each other. Abi would get a book out of her school library or go to a local library with her mom, who is also an avid reader, and then I would locate the same book. I suggested some of my favorite authors like Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, while Abi introduced me to Nick Bruel among others. This worked well until Abi started to get a little bored with it. I needed to come up with another plan. Bubbies are known for making the most out of any situation, so I did.
As there never seems to be enough fun Jewish kid’s stories, Abi and I decided to create our own. The first story we wrote together is called “The Dreidel That Spun Out of Control.” It’s about a dreidel that will spin like crazy and make good things happen if you think good thoughts before you spin it. Watching the story come to life with illustrations was probably one of the most amazing parts of this for us both. I was able to find an amazing illustrator online. First, I would ask Abi what she thought each page should look like. Then, the illustrator would send me a sketch that I would share with Abi, and we would decide if it matched our vision. The artist would then send the final picture for approval. Abi even designed the cover.
As the book was finished, the war in Israel had just started. It has been gut-wrenching, and I suggested that we take the proceeds from this book and donate them to a charity in Israel. Abi researched with her dad on organizations they could give to. They came up with Zakaworld.org. ZAKA is a series of voluntary community emergency response teams in Israel, each operating in a police district. These organizations are recognized by the Israeli government. The full name is “ZAKA – Identification, Extraction and Rescue – True Kindness.” All proceeds, every penny, will be sent to them.
Abi has become an aspiring writer and has already started on two other books without me. They are untitled as of now. The two of us have collaborated though on a book called “The Matzoball That Saved the World Series,” which has a Shabbos theme, and “Emma’s Wish,” which has a Rosh Hashanah theme.
“Think good thoughts and good things will happen.” It’s the perfect message for a Bubbie to pass along to her grandchildren.
Bubbie (Stacey Cohen) lives on a cattle ranch in Arizona and is retired from the radio industry. Abi is an honor-roll recipient, competitive chess player, member of the school crochet club, and the oldest of three siblings.
The Dreidel that Spun Out of Control can be found on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.