Crafting with Zhen Yu is a ZHEN YU AND THE SNAKE inspired craft that can be easily replicated at home or in classrooms. Educators, please ask me how I can bring this to your school, community center, or synagogue. The theme of KINDNESS and GIVING TO THOSE IN NEED makes a Tzedakah box project a great addition to lessons on the book.


My daughters make for the perfect ‘volunteers’ to test my books craft especially during long (at least to me) breaks from school. This one was tested during Lunar New Year.

Tzedakah is the mitzvah (commandment) to help those in need. Tzedakah means justice which is a beautiful way of thinking about donations.

Tzedakah boxes are found in most traditional Jewish homes, synagogues, Jewish schools, and Jewish communal organizations.

Zhen Yu was adapted from a Talmudic tale about a rabbi (Rabbi Akiva) and his daughter- and a snake. As with most traditional tales, there is a moral. The moral is usually translated to ‘charity will save from death’. Being that this is a picture book, my editor had suggested that I remove the word death. Ultimately, I stated that she was simply saved because she gave to the poor.

I was originally searching online for cylinder-shaped boxes to use, but I found these wooden banks at a local art store for HK$6 (US $0.76) and they’re perfect. Ideally you can use something you already have in your home, but I wanted to create something that can be easily replicated in a classroom.

Get creative. Think out of the BOX! Have fun crafting with Zhen Yu and always give to those in need.

As a reminder, I also have FREE Zhen and the Snake activity sheets that you can download at home or in the classroom.