Mira and her family begin preparing for Passover just as they have done every year, but they know this year will be different from preceding ones. In the past, extended family and friends have joined Mira and her family at a lively, busy seder where they sang together, ate together, and celebrated their history in a vibrant, lively atmosphere.
This year is different. It is the first winter of the coronavirus pandemic, and no one is permitted to socialize or gather in groups; everyone must stay in their own homes. Mira realizes that many of her neighbors live alone and, for them, celebrating at home without guests means celebrating in solitude. She moves her practicing of the traditional Four Questions out onto the balcony and begins talking to the neighbors sitting out on their balconies.
Soon, a new seder plan emerges as each family invites others to consider the idea of balcony songs to be sung together from their own homes, yet somehow each as part of a community. They can share their voices and their joy with others, singing with spirit and verve, while showing their strong vibrant connections with one another. This Passover may not be typical, but it is very special and will be long remembered by the residents of Dan Street with a nostalgic smile.
A note to families informs the reader that this scenario occurred all over Israel during the pandemic’s first year. Reminiscences abound about the way members of Israeli society reached out to the people around them that night, stepping out onto their balconies and into their courtyards, singing and interacting with those under different roofs but under the same sky. Song was heard that night in the cities and towns throughout Israel. This lovely book, with its evocative color illustrations of Israeli scenes, tells a heartwarming and accurate story that encapsulates the spirit of Israel and of Israelis who truly know how to share and care.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.