And the Ban Played On

- Hadassa Magazine

One Jewish singer-songwriter has even produced a full album dedicated to fighting bans. Grammy Award-winning singer Joanie Leeds has been making children’s music for over a decade. Her 11th album, Freadom: Songs Inspired by Banned Children’s Books, dropped in September. One song, “Cholent Time,” was inspired by Mara Rockliff’s book Chik Chak Shabbat, about a diverse group of neighbors who help an observant Jewish woman make the Shabbat stew. The book was purchased in a school district in Jacksonville, Fla., then withheld for 15 months while being reviewed by the district.

“As a proud Jewish American with strong progressive values, I’m deeply concerned about the increasing book bans across our nation,” said Leeds. “One fearful parent’s influence should not silence diverse voices in schools and libraries, violating our First Amendment rights. Sharing Jewish stories and educating non-Jewish readers about our culture are essential, just as it is for any marginalized group.”

Let children read. Let writers write. Let artists paint and sing. Let us all not be afraid to share opinions, ideas and words for fear of being banned, uninvited or canceled for creative expression. Yesterday, it was a colleague who was censored. Tomorrow, it may be me—or you. It’s time to turn the page and stand together to fight censorship and those who are trying to take a knife to our freedom of expression. 

Lisa Barr is The New York Times best-selling author of Woman on Fire. Her new historical thriller, The Goddess of Warsaw, about a legendary Hollywood actress with a secret past during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, will be published in May 2024.

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Posted in News & Other Writings on Dec 15, 2023