Sharon Elswit, author of The Jewish Story Finder, now resides in San Francisco, where she shares tales aloud in a local JCC preschool and volunteers with 826 Valencia to help students write their own stories and poems.
The Storybook Haggadah
With sparklingly clear stories, readable font, and child-friendly messages, Rabbi Rossel offers a festive Passover Haggadah for families. Text is simplified, but not over-simplified, and follows traditional order in Hebrew and English, from basic blessings to table songs. What stands out is what Rossel adds for understanding. Difficult passages are broken down into phrases and explained. He intersperses fifteen stories that smoothly link Biblical characters and Exodus events with Jewish values and modern heritage. Abraham’s trust in one God as creator paves the way for the Children of Israel to cry out to heaven when they were slaves. One story connects the roasted bone on the Seder plate to mezuzahs on the doorpost, as symbols of God’s protection. Some of the stories are traditional. Some, like the sea pulling rank and refusing at first to part for Moses, or God sending an angel to ask Miriam to stop dancing while Egyptians are drowning, are newer. About the Israelites’ need to leave before dough could rise, Rossel advises: “When freedom calls, you must answer without delay.” Occasionally pictures follow a page or two behind a story, but on the whole, the Hagaddah was laid out with care. Bright illustrations on shiny stock, some spot and some full-page, engage the eye with action. Text borders are decorated with symbols. For ages 7 – 10.
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