Seder in the Desert

Jamie Korn­gold; Jeff Finkel­stein, illus.
  • Review
By – August 21, 2014

In this pho­to-essay style pic­ture book, a young child nar­rates her expe­ri­ence celebrat­ing Passover in the desert of Moab, Utah with the Adven­ture Rab­bi” Jamie Korn­gold. At this non-tra­di­tion­al Seder, par­tic­i­pants hike through the desert, just like the Israelites. The Seder meal is served desert style, on long stretch­es of fab­ric set on the ground along the Col­orado Riv­er. Fam­i­lies in hik­ing clothes sit togeth­er with their water bot­tles along­side their Kid­dush cups. Chil­dren are pic­tured with the tra­di­tion­al sym­bols of the Seder plate accom­pa­nied by typ­i­cal expla­na­tions as well as some addi­tion­al tid­bits. For exam­ple, the read­er will learn that pars­ley is not only a reminder of spring but as one of the hardi­est herbs of the gar­den, it also recalls how strong the Jew­ish peo­ple had to be to sur­vive in the desert.” The sig­nif­i­cance of Miriam’s Cup is also includ­ed. A Torah is unrolled from a back­pack and the sto­ry of Exo­dus is read aloud under the Coro­na Arch. Every­one dances, like Miri­am, with tam­bourines as they sing Dayenu.” At the con­clu­sion of the Seder, the group hikes back down the moun­tain to per­form Hav­dalah. They then build a camp­fire and sing songs beneath a full moon and hope to cel­e­brate Passover in the desert again.” The large, full-col­or pho­tographs beau­ti­ful­ly depict the exquis­ite desert scenery as well as the warmth and spir­it of this unique com­mu­ni­ty and are a per­fect com­ple­ment to the descrip­tive, yet con­cise, text. Seder in the Desert joins oth­er pic­ture books such as New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Sto­ry by April Hal­prin Way­land (Dial, 2009), Meno­rah Under the Sea by Esther Susan Heller (Kar-Ben, 2009),and A Song for My Sis­ter by Les­ley Simp­son (Ran­dom House, 2012) in intro­duc­ing read­ers to con­tem­po­rary, pro­gres­sive com­mu­ni­ties cel­e­brat­ing Jew­ish hol­i­days and rit­u­als in new and cre­ative ways. Addi­tion­al pho­tos, as well as reg­is­tra­tion infor­ma­tion, for this annu­al event can be found at www.AdventureRabbi. org, but even those less adven­tur­ous will be inspired to look at the hol­i­day in a new way. Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 3 – 8.

Rachel Kamin has been a syn­a­gogue librar­i­an and Jew­ish edu­ca­tor for over twen­ty-five years and has worked at North Sub­ur­ban Syn­a­gogue Beth El in High­land Park, IL since 2008, cur­rent­ly serv­ing as the Direc­tor of Life­long Learn­ing. A past chair of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Award Com­mit­tee and past edi­tor of Book Reviews for Chil­dren & Teens for the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries News & Reviews, her arti­cles and book reviews appear in numer­ous pub­li­ca­tions. She has been a mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Library Association’s Sophie Brody Book Award Com­mit­tee since 2021.

Discussion Questions