Ellie’s Shab­bat Surprise

Bev­er­ly Mach Geller; S. Kim Glass­man, illus.
  • Review
By – January 16, 2012

This slight sto­ry offers a pleas­ant way to learn about the var­i­ous rit­u­als of Shab­bat through the eyes of a young Ortho­dox girl liv­ing in Jerusalem. Six-year-old Ellie has been cho­sen to sing a solo at the Sab­bath after­noon gath­er­ing of the Ortho­dox Jew­ish con­gre­ga­tion to which her fam­i­ly belongs. It is Fri­day and Ellie’s voice is creaky. Need­less to say, she is very con­cerned. How will she per­form this spe­cial honor? 

As Ellie mulls over her options and pos­si­ble solu­tions the read­er is intro­duced to the spe­cial prepa­ra­tions and rit­u­als for the upcom­ing Sab­bath cel­e­bra­tion. Ellie solves her voice issue by don­ning a lamb cos­tume and bleat­ing out her song to thun­der­ous applause. Hebrew and Yid­dish words are ital­i­cized and lat­er appear in the glos­sary. The text is print­ed crisply on unadorned back­grounds and is prop­er­ly sized for young read­ers. The very sim­ple, styl­ized illus­tra­tions sup­port the nar­ra­tive, although there is noth­ing in them that iden­ti­fies Israel as the set­ting. An appro­pri­ate choice for those need­ing a sto­ry about Shab­bat, and may work well as a read-aloud. For ages 4 – 6.

Nao­mi Kramer is a retired read­ing con­sul­tant teacher who devel­oped cur­ricu­lum for using lit­er­a­ture to edu­cate chil­dren and adults in the his­to­ry of the Holo­caust. She is a docent and edu­ca­tor at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

Discussion Questions