Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
September brings Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish year. The first of the High Holidays, this holiday is marked by rest, prayer in synagogue, festive meals, and by the sounding of the Shofar. The Shofar is a horn typically created from a male kosher ram. It is blown in synagogues at different times during Rosh Hashanah prayers.
Ten days after Rosh Hashanah is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which is the holiest, and most widely observed, day for Jews. A time for repentance and atonement, it is observed by twenty-five hours of fasting and prayer. It is also customary to wear white during Yom Kippur, to symbolize purity.
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Contributor: Emily Griffin
Celebrate Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur with Honey, Prayers, and the Shofar
The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) is celebrated by Jews around the world. It is a time to reflect on the past and to think of ways to be a better person. The last day of this ten day celebration is called Yom Kippur and it a really important holiday. Jews take time to fast, pray, and ask God, friends and family to forgive their sins and wrongs. The text which describes the foods and activities during this holiday period is accompanied by wonderful photographs. What makes it even more enjoyable is that the pictures are of Jews around the world. Readers get to see children and adults of all ethnicities and the way each has followed and adapted Jewish traditions. It begins at Sunday with the lighting of candles, prayers, and special foods which have symbolic meaning are served. The round challah represents the circle of life. Even though some may eat fish heads or pomegranates, honey seems to be one of the consistent foods. It is a dip for the challah and apples which represent the sweet life. At the synagogue, a special ram's horn called the shofar is blown to call everyone to prayer. Like Muslims, Jews on Yom Kippur will begin a full day of fasting and men and woman usually pray in separate areas of the synagogue. At the end of Yom Kippur, there is a big meal with family and friends as all get ready to celebrate a happy new year. There is extra information at the back of the book that explains more about the Torah and the shofar, and it directs readers to other sources to find out even more and includes a recipe for honey cake and a glossary. Part of the "Holiday Around the World" series. 2007, National Geographic, Ages 4 to 8, $15.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature)
The villagers of Nemirov have noticed that every year on the day before Rosh Hashanah their rabbi disappears and returns late at night. A young boy is given the task of solving the mystery. Reuven recognizes the rabbi disguised as a woodcutter and follows him as he passes by the synagogue and cheder until he finally arrives at the home of Mottel the Tailor's widowed wife. The frail woman shivers in the dark because she has no money for wood. Incognito, the rabbi lights the fireplace. This altruistic deed reminds Reuven of a sermon on the level of charity: "an even higher kind of giving is when the identity of the giver is not known to the person receiving the gift". Reuven returns home with his secret knowledge. When the villagers ask, "Did the rabbi ascend to heaven?", Reuven replies, "Even higher". Ungar's coloured pencil and watercolour illustrations have an old world charm. His palate of colours include rich, rust tones. The autumnal backgrounds seem to swirl on the page. Adapted from the Jewish folktale If Not Higher by Isaac Leib Peretz, this book will spark discussion on charitable acts. Category: Picture Books. Thematic Links: Charity, Jewish Folktales. Resource Links Rating: G (Good, great at times, generally useful!), Gr. 1-3. 2007, Tundra, 32p. Illus., Hdbk. $22.99. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer: Linda Ludke (Resource Links, June 2007 (Vol. 12, No. 5)).
Hammerin' Hank: The Life of Hank Greenberg
Yona Zeldis McDonough
Illustrations by Malcah Zeldis
A succinctly written text highlights the on- and off-the-field feats of the first Jewish baseball player to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Hank Greenberg's parents did not want him to be a professional baseball player but his love for the game was too overwhelming for him to ignore. He was not a natural athlete, so he practiced until he was good enough to play. And play he did! Despite the anti-Semitism he faced, Greenberg became a team leader for the Detroit Tigers. With important games on both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in 1934, he had to decide whether to play baseball and help his team or spend the day in synagogue. He served in World War II and returned to play for the Tigers. Facts about his personal life and life after his retirement from baseball are also mentioned. Quotes from Greenberg enliven the already engaging text. The accompanying folk art style illustrations mesh perfectly with the text. Look closely at the stadium fences and you will see many familiar sponsors from Coca Cola to Ford to Maxwell House coffee, and more. Front and back endpapers have hand-drawn baseball cards with the teams and names of other famous Jewish baseball players. Interested readers may want to find out more about these players as well. While the picture book format makes this accessible to younger children, this is a superb example of a book that can be used for discussions with teens. Topics, such as baseball and anti-Semitism, are obvious. Other topics include America in the 1930s, what it means to be a hero, the influence of sports on American social history, and a history of advertising in America, to name a few. Greenberg's impressive baseball statistics, a chronology of his life, a glossary of some baseball and Jewish terms, and a bibliography are located at the back of the book. 2006, Walker and Company, $16.95 and $17.85. Ages 8 up. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2007; Bank Street College of Education; Outstanding Merit; United States
Children's Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, Supplement, 2007; H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Books for Younger Readers, 2007; Association of Jewish Librarians; United States
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, April 2006; Cahners; United States
The Hardest Word: A Yom Kippur Story
Illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn
A rollicking good tale that is so much fun you'll barely realize what a solid lesson it teaches. One of God's wondrous creatures, the humongous bird named The Ziz, has goofed in his lovable but clumsy word. Now the children's garden is destroyed. What to do? He flies off to consult with God on the top of Mt. Sinai and is given the assignment to bring back "the hardest word." That proves to be an almost insurmountable task, but finally, in admitting defeat, The Ziz finds the word as well as the solution, and the reader finds a gentle lesson for the Day of Atonement. Kahn's pictures hit the jackpot with their fanciful colors and in-your-face designs. Another fine book from Kar-Ben and another favorite in the making for youngsters. 2001, Kar-Ben/Lerner, Ages 3 to 8, $6.95. Reviewer: Judy Chernak (Children's Literature).
It's Shofar Time
Latifa Berry Kropf
Photographs by Tod Cohen
Like the other books in the series, this is an introduction to a holiday through the experiences of children in a Jewish preschool. Activities associated with Rosh Hashanah, such as blowing the shofar, making holiday cards, dipping apples in honey, and baking round loaves of challah are smoothly combined with concepts compatible with a preschooler's understanding of Rosh Hashanah. It is a time to learn new things, a time to dress the Torah in a special white cover, a time to pretend that the crumbs we throw in the water are things we are sorry for, and a time to pay attention to the coming of a new and better year. Making the simple and concrete text even more accessible are color photographs of children engaged in activities that relate, either directly or metaphorically, to the holiday. The inter-racial group of children--a welcome touch--is irresistible but in addition to sweet faces, there's substance here, too. Highly recommended for preschoolers. Category: Holidays. 2006, Kar-Ben/Lerner, 24pp., $12.95. Ages 2 to 5. Reviewer: Linda R. Silver (Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter, September/October 2006 (Vol. 26, No. 1)).
Notable Books for Younger Readers, 2007; Association of Jewish Librarians; United States
Jewish Holiday Origami
The 24 origami models in this welcome new book are organized by level of difficulty and cross-listed by Jewish holiday. Most are for Passover, including models of each of the Four Sons, and there are others for Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim, and Shavuot. Origami symbols are diagrammed, as is each model, showing step-by-step how it is made. The finished products, among them Miriam and her timbrel, a shofar, a pyramid, a kiddush cup, and and an ushpiz (Sukkot guest), are photographed in black and white; they are both attractive and remarkably true to the events and beliefs they symbolize. This should join Florence Temko's Jewish origami books in every school and synagogue library. For grades 2 -- adult. Category: Holidays. 2006, Dover, 64pp., $5.95. Ages 7 to adult. Reviewer: Linda R. Silver (Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter, September/October 2006 (Vol. 26, No. 1)).
New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story
April Halprin Wayland
Illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch
Izzy loves autumn, the time of year of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah. He particularly likes the custom of Tashlich, which means first the listing of the things you are sorry for, and then telling people that you are sorry. Izzy recalls his mistakes with regret. When the holiday services end, everyone walks to the beach. There, the rabbi reminds them that it is time for casting off the things we do not need or want to keep. Izzy tosses pieces of bread into the water for each thing that he is sorry about, then finishes giving and receiving apologies. All is forgiven. Everyone goes home with empty bread bags “…and clean, wide-open hearts.” Jorisch chooses pen, ink, and lightly applied watercolor and gouache for a rather literal visualization of the story, focusing on the characters. The scene on the pier is particularly attractive, with its wide range of distinctive personalities. When Izzy and his friend Ben exchange their apologies, the humanity of the holiday’s message and its psychology are clear. Notes add information on the holiday and the author’s feelings about it. 2009, Dial Books/Penguin Group, Ages 5 to 8, $16.99. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
This is one of eight more titles in the Celebrations in my World Series from Crabtree Publishing. Aimed at primary children, these titles explore the history and traditions of a variety of celebrations around the world. Large print provides easy to read text which is accompanied by vibrant captioned illustrations on 2 page spreads. Each book explores the origins of the celebration, its history, traditions, symbols, food, music, and activities which are associated with the holiday. “Did you Know” information is provided on each 2-page spread. A Table of Contents, Glossary and Index are also included. This series will be a welcome addition to primary classes which are taking a beginning look at different cultures and their celebrations. The large print and colourful illustrations make the books accessible to very young readers on an individual basis or in large group situations. Category: Non-Fiction Grades K-6. Thematic Links: Celebrations; Holidays; Diverse Cultures. Resource Links Rating: G (Good, great at times, generally useful!), Gr. 1-4. 2010, Crabtree Publishing, 32p. Illus., Hdbk. $20.76ea. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewer: Victoria Pennell (Resource Links, December 2009 (Vol. 15, No. 2)).
Toby Belfar and the High Holy Days
Gloria Teles Pushker
Illustrated by Judith Hierstein
This book reads more like a manual for the holidays than a story but should serve as a vehicle for explaining the customs and meanings of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, if you need one. Toby, meditating on the porch swing, finds her way to realizing that saying you're sorry for mistakes or bad behavior may not be enough; that perhaps some restitution, like reading some books to her friend's little brother whom Toby had teased, is in order. Her best friend, who is not Jewish, plays the perfect straight man role, asking the right questions so Toby can explain things, agreeing with Toby's insights into forgiveness, asking for forgiveness for herself, too. It is all too neat, especially the completely gratuitous birthing of puppies by Toby's dog while the girls are talking about the holidays. Even the illustrations, while colorful and well done, are suffused with a curious lack of emotion, as if everyone needs to look mature to discuss weighty matters like repentance and hear the shofar in Temple. There are also errors in the transliteration of the Hebrew blessings into English. Read it if you must, but there are better choices. 2001, Pelican, Ages 4 to 8, $14.95. Reviewer: Judy Chernak (Children's Literature).
What Makes Someone a Jew?
Is it the way that I look? Do Jews come from only one place on earth? Are Jewish people Jewish from the time of their birth? Are there ways to be Jewish with my family? These are some of the questions asked and answered in this colorful book. Young children will enjoy looking at the bright photographs of people who represent Jews of different races and ages behaving Jewishly. Inclusive in its outlook, liberal in its doctrine, and age-appropriate in the Jewish behaviors that it portrays, the format is inviting, with large type printed in different colors and an all-around cheerful look. The text assures children that you don't have to look a certain way to be Jewish, that you can come from anywhere, that being Jewish starts when you live Jewishly, which means being kind studying the Torah and learning some Hebrew. Jews observe holidays like Hanukkah, Passover, and Rosh Hashanah, celebrate Shabbat every week, and do good deeds. What matters is inside your heart and inside your head and now that you know all this, you're off to a good start. Recommended for ages 3-7 and a definite plus for the Jewish preschool and Jewish home. Category: Judaism. 2007, Jewish Lights, 32pp., $8.99. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Linda R. Silver (Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter, May/June 2007).
The White Ram: A Story of Abraham and Isaac
Gerstein draws on the Old Testament Bible story of Abraham, asked by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. But the focus is on the white ram, which was made by God, according to legends, in the twilight of the first Sabbath. Even after Adam and Eve are expelled, the ram is told by God to wait in the Garden of Eden until called. Finally, when God calls, the Devil tries to stop the ram, saying it will mean his death. The Devil in various forms keeps trying to delay him, but the ram runs on, knowing he must save the child. At the top of the mountain where Abraham is preparing to sacrifice Isaac, he hears God telling Abraham to sacrifice the ram instead. And it is the horn of the ram that is blown on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, to remind God to forgive all his children's children "till the end of time." Gerstein uses pen and ink, oil paint, and colored pencil for his scenes of the obedient ram, which begin in Eden. A series of inventive Evil Ones, ugly and threatening, try to stop him. Because of the Jewish prohibition of visualizing God, the skies in these scenes have cloud formations, which suggest hands and even perhaps His face. The visual sequences are successful in conveying both spirituality and powerful action in believable contexts. Gerstein adds a brief background note. 2006, Holiday House, $16.95. Ages 6 to 10. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
The Best Children's Books of the Year, 2007; Bank Street College of Education; United State
Choices, 2007; Cooperative Children's Book Center; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, July 31, 2006; Cahners; United States
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, September 2006; Cahners; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
National Jewish Book Awards Winner 2006 Illustrated Children's Book United States
Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor Award 2007 Younger Readers United States
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