L'CHAIMNovember 2022

Morah Leora: Teacher Extraordinaire

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By Barbara Birenbaum

Leora Lazarus, best selling author, educator, storyteller, is one of the most admirable people I know. Her warmth, generosity, kindness, altruism, ingenuity, humility, persistence, and creativity never cease to be amazing. She is a force from within, withstands pressure and rises above adversity. She is a self-starter, a creative artist, and an independent and self-driven dynamo who is always learning and growing.

A Jewish educator by nature and an early childhood educator by trade, Morah Leora combines these strengths with skills she has developed intrinsically. Currently she serves Ner Tamid Synagogue in Rancho Bernardo, teaching Shul School and leading services for little ones and is the Judaica specialist at two synagogue preschools, Tifereth Israel in San Carlos and Temple Adat Shalom in Poway. She infuses these programs passionately with Jewish values and curriculum using stories, songs, and puppets. Soon she’ll be presenting professional development programs incorporating storytelling and books into early childhood classrooms. Previously, she organized, brought and taught a self-contained traveling preschool into underprivileged communities offering families a rich array of materials and lessons supporting the development of young children who would not otherwise have had the opportunity.

As a serious storyteller, Leora fullfils her promise to her Bobba to keep alive the stories of the Shoah. One way she does this is through regular appearances highlighting her family’s experiences as a featured storyteller for TeachtheShoah.org, an organization dedicated to “ensuring that the story of the Holocaust lives beyond the survivors”.

Leora has written and self-published 10 children’s books that are meaningful and carry messages that children need to hear and educators need to share. Each one of her books was born from a need and fills a need in the lives of young children.

Naughty Norman, her first book, is a counting book for the youngest readers and includes a number of different counting modalities. Next came Flurble, Five Yucky Creatures, One Disgusting Sound, offering children a delightful outlet for bathroom language, which was (and remains) a challenge in young classrooms.

Her Jewish holiday books reach far beyond the norm and teach genuinely important concepts with charming, clear language understood by children and appreciated by teachers and parents. The Tree and Bird series includes A Simchat Torah Adventure and A Havdalah Adventure. Tree and bird are friends who allow each other to shine while discovering the beauty these holidays. The Tu B’Shevat Etrog promotes the cycle, science and patience of growing a tree from a seed. In the past three years, she has produced a book a year and began creating the artwork as well with delightfully unique results. The Mask Mitzvah (which has two alternate versions, one secular and one Spanish) is illustrated with collage, A Gift for Shira, illustrated with clay is about receiving the Ten Commandmentes at Shavuot, and most recently, The Seven Days of Creation, carefully illustrated by quilling. Resourcefully, she uses materials she has on hand or from recycle bins. Developing the self confidence to trust her process and her creative skills, she has surprised herself with this newfound success. She challenges herself with each new project and her newest book is in the works for Hannukah utilizing her talent with fabric arts.

Her Etsy store offers felt board kits for all the Jewish holidays featuring authentic designs and are affordable resources for educators.

You can find Morah Leora on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Her products are available on Amazon and Etsy. Reach out via her website morahleora.com to schedule a presentation or read-aloud in person or through Zoom.

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