On All Oth­er Nights: A Passover Cel­e­bra­tion in 14 Stories

  • Review
By – April 8, 2024

Despite the length of its dura­tion, Passover has often got­ten short shrift when it comes to rep­re­sen­ta­tion in mid­dle-grade books — until now. On All Oth­er Nights is a short sto­ry col­lec­tion fea­tur­ing authors such as R. M. Romero, A. J. Sass, and Veera Hiranan­dani, to name a few.

There are fif­teen steps in a tra­di­tion­al Passover seder, and each sto­ry in the col­lec­tion con­tains a twist on one of them. In a short intro­duc­tion to each sto­ry, the step of the seder and a def­i­n­i­tion for it are list­ed. There are also ques­tions to get read­ers think­ing about the seder and the hol­i­day as a whole, ques­tions that per­tain to top­ics like sym­bol­ism in the meal, fam­i­ly tra­di­tions, and prompts for fur­ther dis­cus­sion and reflection.

The gen­res of these sto­ries vary wide­ly: fic­tion and non­fic­tion, his­tor­i­cal and con­tem­po­rary, and prose and verse. They touch on a diverse range of Jew­ish tra­di­tions and back­grounds. There is the sto­ry for Karpas, writ­ten by Nao­mi Milliner, about a beloved grandmother’s absence, which will break read­ers’ hearts and then put them back togeth­er again. Sarah Kapit has writ­ten a ten­der sto­ry for Shulchan Orech about neu­ro­di­ver­gence, sen­so­ry issues, and fam­i­ly accep­tance. Lau­ren Shovan’s sto­ry for Barech dis­cuss­es Miri­am, Deb­bie Fried­man, grow­ing up, and becom­ing a leader.

Ruth Behar writes about her Cuban and Jew­ish fam­i­ly and her Ashke­nazi and Sephardic iden­ti­ties: Each year, when our fam­i­ly sat down to cel­e­brate Passover, there was a lot of talk about free­dom and how lucky we were to be in a free coun­try. We had sac­ri­ficed, left a home we loved to find free­dom.” Amy Igna­tow com­bines illus­tra­tions with prose to share her family’s seder expe­ri­ence: Of course, every­thing feels like it takes for­ev­er when you’re a hun­gry kid who is expect­ed to sit qui­et­ly in an uncom­fort­able dress, but in 1984 our fam­i­ly seder actu­al­ly took sev­en­ty-eight hours.”

Speak­ing of hunger, no Jew­ish hol­i­day is com­plete with­out food. At the end of the book, read­ers will find easy-to-make recipes that were cre­at­ed specif­i­cal­ly for the col­lec­tion by chefs such as Adeena Suss­man and Mol­ly Yeh.

Rich with numer­ous Jew­ish per­spec­tives, On All Oth­er Nights is a wel­come addi­tion to the kid-lit genre. The orga­ni­za­tion of the sto­ries and the struc­ture of the book work well, and the ques­tions that pre­cede each sto­ry draw us in, encour­ag­ing us to think about our own rela­tion­ship to the holiday.

Jaime Hern­don is a med­ical writer who also writes about par­ent­ing and pop cul­ture in her spare time. Her writ­ing can be seen on Kveller, Undark, Book Riot, and more. When she’s not work­ing or home­school­ing, she’s at work on an essay collection.

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