Superhero Has Two Gay Dads
In Elisabeth Kushner’s delightful children’s book “The Purim Superhero,” the central character Nate is looking forward to Purim, a joyous Jewish holiday, but can’t decide what costume to wear for the Purim festival. All the boys in his Hebrew class are going to be superheroes, but Nate really wants to dress up as an alien. He asks his parents, who happen to be two fathers, for advice. Abba tells him he doesn’t have to do what the other boys are doing, and Daddy reminds him that he can dream up his own superhero.
That night, Nate has a great idea. Abba sews his costume, Daddy buys him a mask and antenna, and his sister Miri makes his badge, so that on the day of the Purim festival he can dress up as Super Alien and win the award for Most Original.
Afterwards, several boys confess that they had secretly wished to wear different costumes. They decide that for next Purim, they all should be whatever they want to be.
The book was published in 2013 by Kar-Ben Publishing, after the manuscript won a contest for Jewish-themed books with gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender characters.
In recent weeks the book caused some controversy for the PJ Library, a nonprofit that gives more than one million free books per year to Jewish families with young children. According to an article in The Boston Globe, The PJ Library had made the decision to send the book by request only. In a blogpost, Winnie Sandler Grinspoon, a trustee for the Harold Grinspoon foundation, the program’s founder, explained that while organization officials would like to offer books that reflect different types of families, they knew that for some of their subscribers homosexuality and same-sex marriage are taboo. PJ Library subscribers requested all available 2,200 copies of the book within 36 hours.
Idit Klein, executive director of Keshet, the organization that held the contest, said her organization had been in conversation with the PJ Library about “The Purim Superhero” since its publication. While she called the PJ Library’s decision-making process “thoughtful and heartfelt,” she also made clear she was disappointed.