The Adventures of Jelly Eli Z.

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Jelly Eli ZWhat the Book is About:

Like a lot of fourth graders, Eli Zipperstein loves baseball and sometimes has trouble concentrating. Unlike a lot of fourth graders, Eli is obsessed with jelly and jelly beans. In fact, he loves them so much that his friends call him Jelly Eli Z. In the first of the three stories in this book, Jelly Eli tries to figure out why the principal keeps staring at him. In the second, Jelly Eli and his best friend, Benny, compete in the school’s pizza party challenge. In the last story, Eli has a moral dilemma at a baseball game. This is a sweet, fun book for younger kids.

Jewish Content and Values

  • Jelly Eli and Benny go to an all-boys Jewish school where the principal is a rabbi.
  • The school has a Take Care of Our Neighborhood competition, and Jelly Eli picks up litter not because of the pizza party prize but because it’s the right thing to do, exemplifying the value of tikkun olam (repairing the world).
  • Rabbi Goodman tells the boys they should be generous and charitable. He later says that the Talmud (a collection of writings on Jewish law and tradition) says to beware of what is not clean. 
  • The boys’ teacher tells them that it is good to do bikur cholim (visiting the sick).

Positive Role Models

  • Eli has a moral dilemma about whether to tell the truth and chooses to do the right thing. He then refuses to accept a reward for telling the truth because it would make him an exception to the rule that the winning team gets extra ice cream, and he thinks that would be unfair.
  • Benny is a good role model for Eli, reminding him to focus on being charitable and not the possibility of a reward for doing the charitable act.

Content Advisory


Talk it Over

In A Baseball Problem for Jelly Eli Z., Eli’s team is happy because he caught the ball and won the game, and the winners get extra ice cream. Eli must decide whether or not to admit the truth: he didn’t really catch the ball. What would you have done in his position?

More For You

Not all jelly beans are kosher, so when a major jelly bean manufacturer in California had their beans certified kosher in 2008, it was a cause for celebration. Since then, Chabad has lit a giant chanukkiah at the factory each year, and in 2016, kids filled the fifth branch with jelly beans. Some kosher brands of jelly bean include Jelly Belly, Mike and Ike, and The Jelly Bean Factory.

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