Cel­e­brate Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kip­pur with Hon­ey, Prayers and the Shofar

  • Review
By – March 9, 2012
Con­cept, tone, lay­out, and live­ly col­or pho­tographs of Jews inter­na­tion­al­ly explain the High Hol­i­days to young­sters with awe and joy. If prac­tice makes per­fect, this third entry (first two on Hanukkah and Passover) about Jew­ish hol­i­days in Nation­al Geographic’s Hol­i­days Around the World series proves the point. The text intro­duces reli­gious and cul­tur­al details in a clear style. A tone of warm inclu­sive­ness absorbs read­ers into their Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty with pride and delight while it invites non-Jews to under­stand Jew­ish reli­gious cus­toms. Read­ers see Jews cel­e­brate around the world. Chil­dren dis­cov­er Rosh Hashanah with sweet­ness and hope; they learn about aton­ing for sins, ask­ing God for anoth­er year of life and mark­ing the anniver­sary of cre­ation. Cel­e­bra­tions at home high­light prayers, hon­ey, and round chal­lah; those in syn­a­gogue, prayers, Torah, and sho­far. Tash­lich gets a two page spread, then the mood grays with the ten Days of Repen­tance and Yom Kip­pur. Read­ers feel the seri­ous­ness of admit­ting sins, intro­spec­tion, and fast­ing, but the grav­i­tas is bal­anced by fam­i­ly togeth­er­ness and indi­vid­ual renew­al. Because the book caters to young chil­dren, memo­r­i­al ser­vices and can­dles appear in one pho­to cap­tion and in the rab­bini­cal end note, not in the main text. One small slip: Yom Kip­pur eve is erev, but Rosh Hashanah is the evening before. The lay­out uses key words in stand-alone, large font to focus on the main ideas and suc­ceeds admirably in deliv­er­ing impor­tant con­cepts. Pho­tographs of children’s faces are full of plea­sure. A recipe, glos­sary, map of pho­to­graph sites, the Al Het prayer, and bib­li­og­ra­phy end this high­ly rec­om­mend­ed book for chil­dren from 5 to 8 years old.

Ellen G. Cole, a retired librar­i­an of the Levine Library of Tem­ple Isa­iah in Los Ange­les, is a past judge of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards and a past chair­per­son of that com­mit­tee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excel­lence in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture. Ellen is the recip­i­ent of two major awards for con­tri­bu­tion to Juda­ic Librar­i­an­ship, the Fan­ny Gold­stein Mer­it Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroed­er Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. She is on the board of AJLSC.

Discussion Questions