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10 Justice songs for Kiddos

Harmonizing Values: 10 Jewish Songs for MLK Day and Justice Education

Are you a passionate educator in the Jewish community, eager to impart essential values of justice, compassion, and inclusivity to the young hearts and minds you nurture? Music is a powerful tool to engage and educate children in early childhood, elementary, or family education environments. In this blog post, we’re excited to share a curated list of 10 inspiring Jewish songs for young learners, focusing on themes of justice and social responsibility.

Join us on a musical journey that combines the rich tapestry of Jewish culture with the call for justice, as we explore these engaging songs. And if you’re eager to optimize your songleading skills and enhance your impact, don’t forget to check out our songleading coaching services, designed to elevate your abilities in songleading for kiddos.

Embrace the Power of Music: Explore Jewish Justice Songs for Kiddos

As we honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and delve into the world of Jewish songs that promote justice, these melodies will help you create meaningful and memorable learning experiences for your students. Whether you’re a songleader, teacher, or parent, these tunes will serve as valuable resources to impart the timeless message of justice, equality, and kindness.

If you want to teach about MLK in Jewish community, I can’t recommend the book As Good As Anybody highly enough. 

It describes the parallel experiences of a young Martin Luther King facing racism and a young Abraham Joshua Hechel facing antisemitism. The story goes on to describe how they marched and prayed together in Selma and demonstrates the strength that can be uncovered when all stand together. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel spoke at Dr. King’s funeral- their work and their relationship is an example of how I wish our world could be.

1) Get Up, Stand Up (Storybook) Bob Marley and Cedella Marley

One of my top ten all time favorite stories, Get Up Stand Up is an incredible tool for sharing this song. The chorus is familiar to you “Get up, stand up- stand up for your rights! Get up, stand up- don’t give up the fight!” but the lyrics of the verses have been re-written by Bob Marley’s daughter, Cedella to be more age appropriate and relatable for young children.

2)  Shed a Little Light by James Taylor covered by Naturally 7 and The Maccabeats 

I love this song when James Taylor sings it but I love it even more when Naturally 7 and The Maccabeats sing it. Since MLK happens just after Chanukah, the symbolism and power of spreading light might be familiar to your learners- so help make connections. When I play a music video for kids, I always make sure to prepare them and take steps towards making the little screen time I use to be used productively. Before pressing play, I’ll ask them a few leading questions and instruct them to wait until the end the song to share their thoughts. I like to ask questions about feelings, because they are universal: How do you imagine the singers felt before, during and after making this video? How do you feel when you watch this video? Does the feeling shift if you close your eyes and listen?

3) If I Had a Hammer by Peter, Paul, & Mary

This song is familiar to many and beloved by many camp-loving OG and contemporary campers. I use “Hammers” aka Treyfe Mallets (they’ve never been used for food!) as rhythm instruments- tapping along to the song. I offer suggested movements- tapping on hammer head on top of the other, tapping from side to side, tapping the floor diagonally across, tapping your toes….all good ways to practice feeling the rhythm of a song in your body! 

4) Justice by Miss Emily  

I was commissioned to write two albums back in 2015, and assigned 24 Jewish values about which to write. This song accompanied a book based lesson plan: Henry’s Freedom Box Teaches to Pursue Justice, take a look for more inspiration. The inspiration text for this song comes straight from Deuteronomy: “Justice, justice, you shall pursue.” Deuteronomy 16:20

Sometimes I think you’re hiding, Hearing news stories that are sad
Sometimes I wonder where you are, when I see bullies, I get mad
But then I remember each one of us has a job to do
Justice, I will find you. Justice, we will pursue


We’re gonna find it, We’re gonna create it
Justice for all, We’re gonna’ make it
We’re gonna do what is right to try to make our world more fair
To be righteous people and show how much we do care

I’m sad when I hear stories From our history, When people who were different Were treated unfairly
Some things have gotten better, but there is still more work to do
Justice, I will find you. Justice, we will pursue


It might teaching others how to open up their mind
It might mean speaking up and being the person who reminds
Though we’ve solved some problems, there are problems that are new
Justice, I will find you. Justice, we will pursue

Track 4, Good Choices Volume 2

5) He Had a Dream by QuaverMusic Song  

This song is extraordinarily cheesy and I suggest you limit the audience with whom you share this to kindergarten and below. A song like this is useful in helping the younger and less verbal kids participate more meaningfully in exploring Justice through song. This tune featured the opportunity to practice audiation- the cognitive skill to internally ‘hear’ a sound without verbally making one (when you think the letters in BINGO instead of speaking them you are practicing that skill). 

6) L’takein (Na Na Song) by Dan Nichols 

Sing this blessing whenever you are pursuing Justice! Elevate your holy work with this simple song. Dan Nichol’s “Na Na Song” also known as “L’takein” was a songsession staple in my youth and I wish I could convey the energy it used to inspire. It’s most common word are so simple that kids collectively retitled the song “The Na Na Song” though it was named for the blessing it contains. The Hebrew lyrics of this song translate to: Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the universe, for giving us the opportunity to mend the world

Na na na na na na, na na na na, na na na na na na

Baruch atah Adonai, Elo- heinu Me- lech ha- olam

Shenatan lanu hizdamnut l’takein et ha olam.

Love that Dan makes the chords   so readily available !

7) Lo Yisa Goy/Don’t Walk In Front of Me

I’m not sure the origin of this version, though i’m confident many of my readers have heard it. This song can be presented as a round, with English, Hebrew, and Niggun elements. The Hebrew lyrics come from Torah (Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3) and mean “A nation shall not raise a sword against a nation, and they shall not learn war more war.”

Aaay Oooo, Ooo Aaaay…

Lo yisa goy
El goy cherev
Lo yil’medu
Od milchamah.
Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow;
Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead;
Just walk beside me, and be my friend;
And together we will walk in the way of Hashem

Lo Yisa Goy- Isaiah 2:4

8) One Mitzvah by Susan Shane-Linder 

I love singing songs my friends wrote, and Miss Susan is a dear one who has made huge contributions to our songleading community. This song has two parts, and I only use the “A” section in early childhood. “One Mitzvah leads to another, if you give of yourself, you can help each other! One Mitzvah leads to another- to be righteous is very good!”

I f you do use both parts- this is a round! Please remember that typically, kiddos need to be 5+ to begin to have the ability to sing in a round. The cognitive processes it requires are simply to complex for younger children who are developing prerequisite skills. 

9) We Shall Overcome 

Sing this one all the way through before you share it with kids. This is always a critical step- but this one is particularly evocative emotionally. 

10)  And the Youth Shall See Visions Debbie Friedman

This song evokes strong feelings- the flute solo in the recording I grew up on in the 90’s was a significant influencer in my decision to become a flutist in middle school! 

Before sharing this song, check in with your kiddo’s understanding of words in the chorus: 

Then, make it personal: Who here has visions of the future? 

For kids 3+  I like to provide this prompt with paper and pencil, and ask them to document their visions. Encourage the kids to draw or describe a vision they have for a future with more justice while they listen to the song. Then, facilitate a brief ‘show and share’ to give children a chance to describe their visions.

  • What is youth? 
  • What is vision? 
  • What does “building for tomorrow” mean?

If you want to be extra about it (like me), you could share the children’s visions with your community by scanning them and creating a gallery or video. Pair it with the chorus of the song.

This MLK weekend and every other weekend, I hope you are showing your learners how to pursue justice! 

Incorporating the power of music into your educational toolkit can leave a lasting impression on young learners. By using Jewish songs that emphasize justice and social responsibility, you’re not only teaching them about their heritage but also instilling values that will shape them into compassionate, empathetic individuals.

As you explore the 10 justice-themed Jewish songs we’ve shared in this blog post, remember that music has the ability to transcend language and connect hearts. Whether you’re using these songs for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, as part of your Jewish education curriculum, or simply to inspire conversations about justice at home, your efforts are making a difference.

If you’re eager to take your songleading to the next level and explore more ways to optimize your educational impact through music, consider my songleading coaching services. We’re here to support and empower you on your journey to creating meaningful learning experiences for the children in your care.

Thank you for joining us in the pursuit of justice through music. Together, we can harmonize the values of our traditions with the call for a more just and inclusive world.

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