His Latest Release:

Rabbi Joe Black
Afikomen Mambo

Reviews of the work of Rabbi Joe Black

Reviews of the work of Rabbi Joe Black

Passover Picture Book Review: Afikomen Mambo

Every year at Pesach time,
We eat the matzah, we drink the wine.
We ask four questions one by one,
But before the seder's done…

The moment Afikomen Mambo arrived, my kids fought over it. One look at the bright, happy cover and they knew there was a fun beat inside.

While Christian children have the Easter egg hunt, at Passover our children search for the afikomen, a piece of matzah traditionally broken in half at the beginning of the seder and then hidden for the children to find when the seder is over. The child who finds the afikomen is awarded a prize, and what could be a better prize than Afikomen Mambo?

Now you can hide it in a table,
Hide it in a box,
Underneath the stairway,
Or inside the kitchen clock.
You can put it in your pocket,
Put it under the TV,
But you can't hide the afikomen from me…

The book by Rabbi Joe Black sports a catchy rhyme and even catchier CD with the mambo song–you can play the music for the kids while they peek under pillows and behind bookcases. The whimsical watercolor illustrations by Linda Prater are bright and cheerful (except for when the characters make faces at the bitter herbs!).

I'm gonna find it, I'm gonna find it,
I'm gonna find it, I'm gonna find,
Gonna find the afikomen!

This is a must-have book for Jewish families with young children. You can begin a Passover tradition with the reading of the book and singing of the Afikomen Mambo song. Kudos to Kar-Ben Publishing for producing delightfully fun books for Jewish holidays.

Happy Passover!

Tara Lazar, children's book author. taralazar.wordpress.com

Afikomen Mambo: A Passover Book Your Kid Will Love

There's something about Passover that makes it a perfect Holiday for small children- - maybe it's the Holiday's occupation with story telling, maybe it's the Haroset that looks like mud but tastes so sweet (a perfect combo for a kid), or the throwing of rubber frogs at the table (everyone does that, right?), but above all else it's the Passover singing that really can draw kids in.

Whether it's the counting song "echad mi yodea," a song that would make Sesame's Count von Count proud, or "dai dai enu" a song so annoyingly redundant (almost as bad as "100 bottles of beer on the wall"…) that my 2-year-old loves singing the chorus for anyone who will listen, the songs of Passover are what I remember most from seders growing up.

That, and the food, of course.

So, you can imagine my excitement when I saw that the PJ Library had mailed me the book and accompanying CD for Rabbi Joe Black's "Afikomen Mambo" - a cute illustrated book about kids looking for the afikomen set to a catchy tune. But would my daughter like it? Like it? This book-CD combo is now as beloved to her as jumping in puddles and blowing bubbles in the bath!

If we leave the book laying around and Maya sees it, she'll come up to me and beg "Afikomen Ma-mo!" until I put the CD on, at which point she'll sit herself down and page through the accompanying book on her own, wiggling her shoulders in time.

Soon enough, Passover will be transformed from a Holiday about music and mud-like apple-mush to a Holiday where I will advise Maya to think about our history of persecution and those currently enslaved in the world, but until then - let's ma-mo!

Nadia Maccabee-Ryaboy, mother and 2nd year medical student. Published at TCJewfolk.com

Children's Picture Books: Afikomen Mambo

It is Pesach time and the family has gathered around the table to read from the haggadah and eat the Pesach seder meal. There are four questions to be asked, "But before the seder's done … / I'm gonna find it / I'm gonna find it / Gonna find the afikomen." The children search high and low looking for it. One boy looks under a carpet while the dog looks on, while another girl peeks under the couch. Is it under the dog dish? Perhaps it could be hidden in the closet, but there is no doubt that someone will find the afikomen before seder is done.

There are many things to eat at the Pesach seder like charoset and karpas. Everyone gathers round when the story of the Exodus is read from the haggadah. "The bitter herbs they / make my eyes go crossed! / But when I find the afikomen, / I'm the boss." Is it in the bureau drawer? Everyone is anxious to be the one who finds it and children scamper around the house searching for it. There are so many different places that it can be hidden, but where is it going to be this year? Mmmmm, who is gonna find it? Will it be you?

The rhyming sequence doesn't miss a beat and the afikomen mambo is extraordinarily catching. The accompanying CD, "Afkikomen Mambo," would be the perfect music to play during the actual hunt for the afikomen. The artwork is colorful, amusing, delightful, and readily catches the excitement of the hunt as children scramble throughout the house hoping that they will be *the* one to find the afikomen. Rabbi Joe Black really has a winner with this book and if you'd like to add a bit more adventure and fun to your Pesach seder, this is one book you should add to your list!

Quill says: This amazing afikomen story in rhyme is an exciting way for children to learn about Pesach and the story of the Exodus.

Deb Fowler, Feathered Quill Book Reviews

Imagine dancing around your Passover Seder and singing the Afikomen Mambo with your children as you search high and low.

Thanks to Kar-Ben Publishing, I recently received a copy of the book and CD Afikomen Mambo by Rabbi Joe Black. In a few short weeks, we will be celebrating Passover with extended family and look forward to bringing this book along to our seder. I think the boys will have a blast singing and reenacting the scenes from the book.


Once again, Rabbi Joe Black allows one of his songs to come alive in the pages of a book (Boker Tov! Good Morning!) Just in time for Passover, our children will be dancing to a Latin rhythm as they get ready for the Seder and their search for the Afikomen. The lyrics are simple, with an easy rhyme. The illustrations are sweet and funny. The enclosed CD will have everyone up and on their feet, wiggling and jiggling in time to the music. Young children will ask to have this repeated until next Passover, so watch out.

A great gift for a family with young children should you be a guest at a Seder.


Rabbi Joe Black - Boker Tov! Good Morning!
Chosen as a "featured selection" by the PJ Library (www.pjlibrary.org)

Boker Tov! Good Morning! From the moment our children are born, we hope that each day will be a new and wonder-filled experience for them, and as loving parents we do our best to make this hope a reality. Most families take on a bedtime ritual in an effort to ease their children’s way into a gentle and peaceful night's sleep; Jewish parents may incorporate into this routine the repetition of the Sh'ma, the most basic and often-recited declaration of belief in one God. Yet in most households, where a hectic early morning rush is the norm, how do we help insure that each approaching day will be one in which our children feel joyful and grateful while making each moment count? The words in Boker Tov offer just such an opportunity. With a bit of extra planning you might make time for an occasional “morning read” of this book with your children. Keep in mind that PJ Library books may be enjoyed not only in the evening, but whenever there is time to connect with your children in the unique way that books afford. What a splendid way to start the day off right!

Upon reading Boker Tov for the first time, you will likely be struck by the rhymes and rhythms that dance between the covers. The youngest of babies will take pleasure in these before the actual words have real meaning for them. Consider further encouraging this sense of joyfulness with sounds and speech by introducing your children to the beauty of the Hebrew language. Beginning with just a word or phrase, something as simple as "boker tov" (good morning), "lilah tov" (good night), and "shalom" (hello, goodbye, peace) integrated into your daily routine can have a lasting impact on your child's Jewish learning and feeling of connectedness.


Rabbi Joe Black - Leave a Little Bit Undone

Jewish music has a long history of borrowing stylistic elements from surrounding cultures.
This is the case from the earliest liturgical chart to today's music. Rabbi Joe Black, a
contemporary example, draws from the American folk and pop tradition. His recent CD titled
"Leave a little bit undone" is a rewarding musical experience.

One hears sweet incantations in "N'Kavim N'Kavim" reminiscent of James Taylor.
N'Kavim is based on the prayer thanking G-d for giving us a body that is a finely balanced
network of "openings and closings". The musical setting begins with an uncomplicated
guitar accompaniment and follows with heartfelt devotional text. Black sings to each listener as a
cantor and a rabbi, spiritual adviser and leader of prayer. His songs are unpretentious and sincere.

"Hard to leave the Holy Land" is a song written while in route from Tel Aviv to Chicago. The lyrics tell of yearning and lost in an upbeat bluesy setting. The verse, "Can't forget Jerusalem, she greets you like a lost friend" expresses the connection to the Jewish spiritual homeland that ever leaves one being. The music of Rabbi Black melts away barriers of time and place. His music transcends song; it soars towards the heavens as prayer.

"I remember you" is a folk ballad based on the text from Deuteronomy 5:3-4. Black stresses "We need to get beyond that which separates us and concentrate on the wonder that we are connected by a moment in time." The musical setting is personal and poignant. Black's approach is accessible, his music enjoyable. He accomplishes his aspiration of making the most of the moment.

One can imagine Rabbi Black standing on a bimah (altar), or concert stage singing his songs; location is irrelevant, expression is paramount. For Rabbi Black, the where is less unimportant than the sense of presence and awe his music imparts. Black extends a sincere voice to G-d, we experience its beauty.

Written by Stewart Cherlin www.klezmershack.com

Rabbi Joe Black and the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band - Eight Nights of Joy
Chosen as a "featured selection" by the PJ Library (www.pjlibrary.org)

I've been a fan of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band for many years because their leader is the former cantor of our synagogue and I've been to several parties and services where they have electrified all of us celebrants with their contagious joie de vivre and virtuoso playing and singing. Rabbi Joe Black was new to me and as soon as I heard his mellifluous voice, exuberant phrasing and original lyrics, I was smitten.

I love this CD. The joyous celebratory spirit of Rabbi Joe Black and the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band perfectly matches the national mood of progressives in a post-Obama election.

The one serious song on this CD, Faith is not a Flag, is achingly inspiring as it profiles three people who embody the true selfless meaning of faith.

I've always found the Dreidel song to be boring, but the yodel version of it on this CD is a hoot!

Written by Terry Soto www.BuzzFlash.com

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