Winning “chai-kus” from around the country

Ever heard of haiku? Well what about “chai-ku?”

The Book Meshuggenahs is a group of 18 award-winning Jewish children’s book authors – all women – from the United States and Israel. This year, they began an annual contest for “chai-ku,” and awarding each winner with a certificate and one of their books. They hope to get both adults and children excited about Jewish books and writing.

Haiku are three line poems, constructed with a five-seven-five pattern of syllables for each line respectively, often with a seasonal or nature theme. The “chai-ku” follow the same form, but are all on Jewish topics; some adhere more closely to the idea of a seasonal theme, with references to holidays or the rhythm of the Jewish calendar. Others are more spiritual, referencing songs or Torah.

Winners include a cantor, a sixth grader and a whole second grade classroom who made watercolors to go along with each entry. The winning entries come from across the country.

Beth Dwoskin, Ann Arbor, MI

Our voices abound
Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino
What song shall we sing?

Joshua Gage, Pepper Pike, OH

Tu B’Shevat
the warmth of the soil
as I press the seed

Marcie Wessels, San Diego, CA

the crack in your voice,
as you hold the Torah high,
glimpse of man to be

Cantor Eric Schulmiller, Reconstructionist Synagogue of the North Shore (RSNS), Plandome, NY

The toughest question
At the Passover Table:
What’s gefilte fish?

Benjamin Wexler (6th grade), Tucson, AZ

The Afikoman
Kids are searching all around
What a nice surprise!

Christine Catalogna, The Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School, Beachwood, OH.

Christine’s entire class of second graders each submitted a chai-ku about the Torah after receiving their own copies of the chumash. A few of their poems are below, along with the pictures they made to accompany them. The rest can be viewed on the chai-ku contest website.


Written by rabbis
A holy and ancient scroll
Truly hard to read


Important Torah
We chant the trope with Rachel
My part is not long


Fabulous teachings
Old, interesting stories
Reading holy words


Wonderful like me
Beautiful letters hanging
Powerful like God

View all of the winning entries here.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Winning “chai-kus” from around the country

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Winning “chai-kus” from around the country

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