As 2021 approaches, there are many things to look forward to — but we still have a ways to go before we get there. It’s a mechayeh — a real joy — that the Covid-19 vaccine has made it to the U.S., but there will be at least a few more months before life begins to get back to a semblance of normalcy.
So until then, we are largely stuck indoors with our immediate families — and with the sun setting at an ungodly early hour, and with most schools closed for winter break, suddenly it seems like there’s even more time to kill. And if you’ve already watched everything on Netflix and can’t bear the thought of another loaf of sourdough, we’ve got you: One delightful way to keep your mind and hands busy is coloring. Really!
Coloring isn’t just for kids — it’s been proven to have mental health benefits for adults, too. A 2005 study among adults demonstrated that “anxiety levels dropped when subjects colored mandalas.” But the benefits of coloring isn’t limited to these geometric designs. Back in 2016, art therapist Marygrace Berberian told CNN: “Coloring definitely has therapeutic potential to reduce anxiety, create focus or bring [about] more mindfulness.”
Coloring can be mindful, relaxing, and even a meaningful way to connect with your family. Add a Jewish twist in there and it can even be a powerful spiritual practice — or, at least, a fun, haimish diversion. From Judaica patterns to comic strips, Jewish artists have heard our prayers and created a variety of vibrant coloring books to fill in our time this pandemic winter. Check out some of our favorites below:
1. When We Can’t Go Out: Jewish Joy at Home (Free download)
From the author of No Steps Behind — a children’s book about legendary feminist Beate Sirota Gordon — comes this coloring book that gives you and your kids tips about how to spend your time self-isolating in a Jewish way. With ideas from singing “Adon Olam” to admiring the Shabbat candles, the book advocates staying inside to stop the spread of Covid-19 and offers ideas on how to incorporate Jewish customs into your daily life. This free (!) coloring book is available to download and print here.
Jewish cartoonist Chari Pere knows what it’s like to be a mom in quarantine, and that’s exactly what she represents in her comic strip coloring book. Covering everything from meltdowns to Zoom school, Pere’s book is the perfect excuse for moms to take some time for themselves, and it also provides some much-needed laughs (or, possibly, tears). And if that’s not enough, Pere also has a variety of activity pages, like mazes and finders based on Jewish customs to keep your kids busy, as well as Parsha coloring pages. Check it all out on her website.
3. Oy Vey! A Yiddish Coloring Book (Amazon $11.95)
From those of us who kvell every time Doug Emhoff uses the word “mensch” to those who have barely heard any Yiddish at all, this mandala-style coloring book, featuring Yiddish words, truly has something for everyone! From publishers at The Behrman House: “These 34 coloring pages (and 34 jokes!) featuring Yiddish words and expressions will give you so much naches, you’ll be kvelling.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!
4. Jewish Slang Coloring Book (Amazon $9.99)
If you’re looking for a less kid-friendly — but laugh-out-loud — coloring book, this could be the one for you. Including illustrations and definitions for phrases like tuches (backside) and shikker (drunk) on each page, this book offers some colorful, if you will, Yiddish lessons along with a relaxing pastime.
5. Shalom Coloring II: Animals of the Bible (Amazon $11.95)
For the animal lovers among us, this coloring book is all about animal stories from the Bible. This book features images from biblical stories, such as Rebecca feeding the camels to Jonah inside the giant fish. The book’s combination of beautiful scenes and Jewish stories makes for a beautiful afternoon of Jewish learning for the whole family.
6. Alefbet Jewish Coloring Book for Grownups (Amazon $14.95)
Like the books above, this coloring book uses coloring as spiritual meditative practice — but this time, the Hebrew alphabet is your primary tool. With 36 original pieces of art to color, admiring the Hebrew letters will maybe help center your focus. The book also includes guided breathing meditation, as well as an introduction to Jewish spiritual meditation. That’s essentially three books for the price of one!
7. Judaica: Jewish Coloring Book for Grownups (Amazon $14.95)
This book is designed specifically for those looking to reduce stress and increase mindfulness during this challenging moment. With design pages featuring familiar Jewish symbols — like Torah scrolls, stars of David, and a tree of life — this book aims to quietly connect you with your heritage, a task that can be extremely grounding in these uncertain times.
8. Kosher Coloring: A Jewish Mandala Coloring Book (Amazon $7.95)
Remember when mandalas were all the rage? Bring this comforting design back into your life with these mandala patterns featuring Jewish designs and funny sayings. This book is perfect for adults, as well as older kids and teens with advanced coloring skills. These pages, designed for markers, also look great as calming decorations after you’re finished coloring.
A part of the Color Your Soul series for children and adults, Joyfully Jewish brings Jewish spirituality to your family in a meditative and thoughtful way. The author, Rae Shagalov, advocates that if you’re coloring with family, you use the time to have a thoughtful conversation about Judaism and the ideas in the book as you color.
Header image via Amazon; Peak Season Coloring, Hey Yiddle Diddle Productions, Inc., Behrman House Inc., Sacred Imprints, Anna Nadler and Steven Sheffron