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Writer/retired prison chaplain collaborates with death row inmate on a children’s book for the times.

Almost everyone knows the story of Noah’s Ark, and how Noah saved two of every animal from the Great Flood. In How the Rainbow got its Stripes, Noah protects his pets, as well. To thank Noah for saving their lives, they look for rules to help everyone live in peace after the Flood.

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Eventually, they find seven basic laws which form the basis for the seven colors and stripes of the rainbow.

The story was created by writer and retired chaplain Len Estrin, who previously visited several PA correctional facilities for the Aleph Institute, Northeast Region.

“Today’s society is torn by strife,” Estrin said. “My book emphases the values we have in common; rather than the opinions that drive us apart.”

Estrin could have picked any illustrator, why did he choose one on death row? “I asked several artists, but none worked out. An inmate suggested Kevin Marinelli to show how people with vastly different backgrounds could unite for a better world.”

Mr. Marinelli was convicted of a murder that occurred during a 1994 robbery. His sentence is currently under appeal. How the Rainbow Got its Stripes represents Marinelli’s first effort as an illustrator. (A self-taught artist, his drawing of former U.S. President Barack Obama accompanies this release.)


Says Mr. Marinelli, “The project was very rewarding and I feel a great sense of accomplishment. I’d love for some kid to see my illustrations and realize no matter where you are, no matter how far gone you feel you are, there’s always hope for a better life, to be a better person and to do something positive with yourself.”

Mr. Estrin echoes Mr. Marinelli’s opinion. “These seven laws can help hit the reset button on society by stressing the moral foundation we all have in common. Even the U.S. Congress has recognized their importance.”

In 1991, the 102nd Congress passed Joint Resolution 104 which declared “ethical values and principles have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization, when they were known as the Seven Noahide Laws.”


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According to Mr. Estrin, the laws of Noah apply to Jews and Gentiles alike, and should not interfere with personal religious practice. Rather, he claims, the laws enhance it. “The laws help people live peaceful and happy lives. For that reason, How the Rainbow Got its Stripes is a fable for our times.”

How the Rainbow Got its Stripes is available on

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