Miryam lives in a small Jewish village in Uganda. As Shabbat approaches each week, her family cooks delicious food and prepares to spend the holiday with their community. One day, Miryam hears and becomes entranced by a rhythmic drumbeat. Instead of focusing on her Shabbat preparations, she follows the hypnotic sounds and finds a group practicing a special dance to welcome Shabbat. Miryam joins them and dances with abandon until she realizes her mother is waiting for her at home.
When Shabbat arrives, Miryam rushes to join the dance troupe in their wonderful swaying motion. Her mother begins to admonish her, explaining that this is not the way they usually observe Shabbat; but Miryam reminds her that there are many ways to celebrate. In a very special Shabbat experience, Miryam and her mother accompany the dancers.
An afterword written by the chief rabbi of Uganda, Gershom Sizomu, describes Jewish life in Uganda. He discusses the Abayudaya, which means “people of Judah” in the Luganda language. He details the African rhythms of Shabbat services and some of the foods that the Abayudaya enjoy.
Color illustrations depict a beautiful landscape, complete with spectacular wildlife. This story reminds readers that there are many Jewish communities worldwide, and they all celebrate Shabbat in their own ways.
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.