In school, Shira learns about Rosh Hashanah, including the meanings of the traditional foods we eat to help us celebrate. These include a round challah for the circle of life, apples and honey for a sweet year, and a delicious fruit called a rimon. The author also introduces a Sephardic custom of eating a fish with its head on to ensure those who eat it will become leaders. When shopping with her mother, Shira asks the fruit sellers for a rimon, but they don’t know what it is. Finally she finds a bin full of the delicious red fruit, which her mother tells her are pomegranates. She is very happy to find them, and tells her mother that now their New Year will be filled with trying to do as many mitzvoth — good deeds — as there are seeds in a pomegranate.
The author, Galia Sabbag, adds in this very slim paperback that the character of Shira is a composite of the students that she has taught over her fifteen years as a Hebrew school teacher. Children learn Hebrew words, songs, greetings and blessings in the story. The Shehecheyanu blessing is included, which Shira’s class learns to say when they are eating the new fruit. Readers will enjoy Shira’s expressive face, big eyes and all of Erin Taylor’s lively, full-page color illustrations, which complement Sabbag’s text. Sabbag writes that other books about Shira and Jewish holidays are coming soon. For now, they are available on the website, and as e‑books on the Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook. Excellent for day schools, Hebrew schools, and as an enjoyable story.
Recommended for ages 5 – 8.
- Shabbat in the Playroom by Galia Sabbag; Erin Taylor, illus.