“Bereishit bara Elokim et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz – In the beginning, Gd created heaven and earth.” (Beresheet 1:1)
When Hashem created the world, He gave us joy and beauty in every square inch. He gave us the sky and the clouds, the moon and the stars, and the sun in all its awe and glory. On the ground, He planted grass and trees and flowers, each bearing the seeds to create more of the same. He poured the rivers and oceans, stacked the mountains and dug the valleys, and placed every speck of dirt and sand in between.
No architectural plan could have produced such brilliance, and no designer could have imagined something so intricate and complex.
But Hashem did not stop there.
The fish and the fowl came next, and the animals – thousands and thousands of them, each unique in its varied shapes and sizes, each exceptional in its own way. When man was created, imagine the splendor that he feasted his eyes upon!
And yet here we are, standing upon the very same earth, enjoying the very same grandeur every morning when we open our eyes. What a miracle.
Freddie Harari, Community’s editor-in-chief, has always been in awe of the wonders of the world. He has always felt a special appreciation for everything about nature, from the dandelion to the leaf, to the apple and banana…from the speedy cheetah to the slow-moving tortoise, and from the ferocious tiger to the peaceful dove; and especially, to our own human capabilities.
When we see the miracles of nature, when we appreciate the wonders that keep us alive, when we contemplate all the things in this world that reflect Gd’s infinite wisdom and the purpose of creation, we are inspired to revere Him in the most powerful way possible. And when we share these wonders and miracles with our children, we set them along the path of awe, reverence, and love for Gd.
Coloring the Mind
This passion led Freddie to launch his newest endeavor: The Jewish World of Wonders KIDS MAGAZINE.
Freddie sees this groundbreaking publication as the perfect way to color the minds and imaginations of children while imparting Torah ideals. He says that kids will become excited “over the weird, the wonderful, and the everyday.” They will be encouraged to get involved, to write letters, join contests, and ask questions, while learning and exploring different continents and countries through vibrant photographs and fascinating scientific information. Most importantly, all this will be presented through the prism of our timeless Torah tradition.
Inspiring fellow Jews with the wonders of the natural world has been a passion of Freddie’s for quite some time. Ten years ago, in 2010, he created The Jewish World of Wonders, an organization with a mission to produce creative content about the beauty and wonders of Hashem’s creations. What began as a weekly newsletter sent to 100 people via email steadily grew into a monthly publication distributed to 1,000 homes in the Jersey Shore region. Two years later, it expanded into a regional publication, and was distributed monthly to 12,000 homes. The magazine became a popular teaching tool in numerous yeshivas and outreach programs around the world. Topics such as the weather cycle, the planets, animals, and other aspects of nature were explored in depth, always with the goal of showing the irrefutable presence of our Creator in our midst.
In 2013, Freddie and Jack R. Cohen, executive publisher of Community Magazine, meshed their efforts to combine the two publications, integrating some fun and fresh content into Community, with Freddie becoming editor-in-chief.
Even while managing Community Magazine, Freddie continued developing the Jewish World of Wonders, turning his attention to publishing large hardcover books and producing almost a book a year for the last seven years.
“Honestly, the only reason I put out the first book was because I was unable to find any animal books with a Torah perspective,” Freddie explains. “I wanted to publish one, as I thought it would bring something of interest for everyone. I think that people of all ages are fascinated by animals and their unique traits.”
A Glimpse Into Hashem’s Greatness
The vibrant publications investigate topics such as the wild world of the animal kingdom, the underwater world, and thousands of other features of our planet and our universe. There’s even a book focused on kids cooking, identifying every fruit, grain, and vegetable, yet another dimension of Hashem’s infinite wisdom. These volumes present a chock full of information in a fun and inventive way.
On a personal note, I remember devouring Highlights magazine as a child in the Yeshivah of Flatbush. I still have visions of a lobster in the picture puzzles, and problem-solving that included going to the store on Saturday. These things bothered me then, and I’m sure they bothered the administration, too. Still, the information was always exciting and the opportunity to learn about vast new worlds was invigorating. What’s magnificent about Freddie’s new kid’s magazine is the way everything comes back to Hashem and to our beliefs. For every fact presented there is a piece of Torah information to go along with it. There is always a reminder to be a good person and good friend, and to treat others with love and respect.
The magazine introduces characters such as Professor Noe Ital (pronounced “know-it-all”), Chef Shiri, Heather the weather girl, Makpid & Maikel, and Peleh the Boy Wonder, and features science, tech talk, and current events. It offers answers to questions like, “What is brain freeze?” “How many stars are there in the universe?” and, “What makes a tornado spin?” There is history and humor, and novel Torah insights on topics of faith. There are fun and educational word games and bits about astronomy, zoology, and even creative arts. There are puzzle pages, riddles, and news of record breakers, and through it all there is a clear message of love for Hashem.
For the purpose of writing this article I was lucky enough to receive a copy of each hardcover book and a preview of the new magazine. My three grandsons and my curious husband are all enthralled, thoroughly enjoying learning something new from these spectacular publications every night before they go to sleep. This is a very special collection – a condensed sample of which has been included in this issue of Community to offer readers a taste of what’s to come.*
Reflecting upon this exciting venture, Freddie cites a teaching of Harav Avrohom Chaim Feuer that Gd fashioned the universe with but one purpose in mind – to shower us with unlimited kindness and love.
“I truly hope that all of my books, magazines and writings will give people a glimpse into Hashem’s greatness through the wonder of His creations,” he says. “Wherever one looks, whether on the ground, below the ground, in the waters or in the skies, one can’t help but be mesmerized by each and every one of Hashem’s creatures.”
* A 24-page sample of the KIDS MAGAZINE was included in the mailing of many – but not all – of the Community magazines.