Archive for May, 2011

Zachor/Remembrance…In the News

It is amazing how many news stories focus on this month’s value: zachor/remembrance. Just today two got my attention:

I will leave it to you to read the stories surrounding these newsworthy events. Of interest to me is that craters on Mars and 29 consecutive hits in baseball games are both cause for remembering significant moments in history.

Just this past Sunday, May 1 was Yom Hashoah/Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Events were organized all around the country and all over the world to remember the 6 million Jews and 5 million others individuals who were murdered by the Nazis during World War II. Even more than 65 years after the events of the war took place, memorials, museums and tributes are being created to honor the memories of individuals and groups who were part of that experience.

Whether it is the Holocaust, manned space flight or as-yet-unbroken baseball records, it is important that our children understand why we remember, and how we memorialize events 1 year, 5 years, or 40, 70, or even 1000s of years after they have taken place. This may seem like a large undertaking, but with the benefit of a few good books, a few helpful questions and some fun activities, the task is not so difficult at all.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by my local public library.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.

I will celebrate life

This morning I woke up to the news that Osama bin Laden was dead. I felt relief, “”Well that’s over.”  I felt fear, “What will happen in reaction to his death?” I felt sadness, “All those lives lost as a result of this man’s actions.”

I did not feel joy.

A man was killed, by the United States military, by individuals representing me. Justice may have been served, but I did not feel happy about it.

I did not want to dance in the street, wave flags or sing.

Yet, as I listened further to the news story, I heard that crowds of people had gathered in Washington, DC and Boston, MA (where I live) to dance and sing and rejoice. If memory serves me, we were horrified by scenes of just such celebrations taking place in some countries overseas on September 11th 2001. What exactly makes our celebrations different from theirs? We are both celebrating death.

I will not celebrate death.

I celebrate life.

I celebrate the lives of the people, many of them heroes, who were lost in the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and on that Pennsylvania field on 9/11. I celebrate the lives of the firemen, police officers and emergency crews that were lost on that day trying to help others to live. I celebrate the lives of the service men and women who have been lost since that day protecting us from further harm.

I celebrate the safety we have experienced as a result of those individuals who give their lives to keep us all out of harm’s way every day.

I celebrate the life we are living now and try with all the power that is in me to see a brighter future.

I celebrate anyone who works toward a world of mutual respect, a world built on that simple principle: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I will try my hardest to be one of those people…one children’s book at a time.

L’Chaim/To Life,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.

Remember the Days…Zachor/Remembrance

Remember the days of old,

Consider the years of ages past;

Ask your father, he will inform you,

Your elders, they will tell you…

(Deuteronomy 32:7)

It is appropriate to focus on Zachor/Remembrance as the value for this month, since in and around the month of May/Iyar many new holidays were established to remember the Holocaust and the events leading to the founding of the state of Israel.

Jews are a remembering people. We love a Torah scroll written just as it has been written for thousands of years and read in exactly the same way in every synagogue on every Shabbat the world over. We place a stone on the gravesites of those we loved and revered, formerly to protect their place of rest, now as a statement of remembrance. The traditions, rituals and foods surrounding our holidays and life cycle events embed them deeply into our minds and those of our children.  Judaism uses every means at its disposal to embrace the mind, the body and all the senses to make sure we implant a concrete memory of whatever we are doing firmly into our souls.

This list of books speaks to the need to keep our important memories alive. Whichever title you or your children decide to read, you will capture a sense of the importance of zachor/remembrance.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge By Mem Fox. Illustrated  by Julie Vivas. © 1985. Kane/Miller Book Publishers. With the assistance of his family and friends and using items he collects from all around, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partidge helps his friend Miss Nancy get her memory back. (Ages 4-8)

The Name Quilt By Phyllis Root. Illustrated by Margot Apple. © 2003. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  Sadie loves to hear the stories about all the people whose names are part of the name quilt on her grandmother’s bed, but one day the quilt is blown away in a terrible windstorm. How will they remember all those stories now? (Ages 4-8)

The Keeping Quilt Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco. © 1998. Simon & Schuster Books. for Young Readers.  A beautiful quilt is passed down from one generation to the next as it is used for births and birthdays, weddings and deaths in a family.(Ages 4-8)

The Rag Coat Written and illustrated by Lauren Mills. © 1991.  Little, Brown and Company. A young Appalachian girl needs a coat in order to attend school. When the Quilting Mothers create a coat of clothing scraps, the school children laugh at her. Until she tells them the stories of each piece of cloth. (Ages 5-9)

Listen! By Stephanie S. Tolan. © 2006. HarperCollinsPublishers.  This summer, twelve-year-old Charley must recover from an accident but also from the loss of her mother. When a strange dog appears, Charley feels she must follow it, even into the woods that hold the memories of her mother she most wants to forget. (Ages9-12)

Eleven By Patricia Reilly Giff. © 2008.  Wendy Lamb Books. Sam has been having strange dreams of escaping from castles. Then he finds a box in his grandfather’s attic that makes him think he may have been kidnapped. Is any of this possible? Who can help him? (Ages 10-14)

The Giver By Lois Lowry. © 1993. Houghton Mifflin Company. Twelve-year-old Jonas receives his Lifetime Assignment fom the Elders. He is to become the receiver of memories. He will carry the memories of the entire community which he will receive from the Giver. (Ages 11-14)

I Am the Cheese By Robert Cormier. © 1977. Dell Laurel Leaf. Adam Farmer is trying to discover who he is and the more he dsicovers the more complex his life is becomig. (Ages 12-16)

Someone Named Eva By Joan M. Wolf.  © 2007. Clarion Books. After her town is destroyed by the Nazis, Eleven-year-old Milada is separated from her family, her name is changed to Eva and she is taken to a school where she is trained to be a perfect German. She is then adopted by a German family. Based on true events from WWII. (Ages 12-16)

Broken Memory By Elisabeth Combres. Translated by Shelley Tanaka. © 2007. Groundwood Press. A young Tutsi girl survives the brutal Rwandan genocides, then goes on to remember and heal from the pain of the experience. (Ages 14-18)

I have prepared a list of discussion questions and activities that parents and/or teachers can use when reading these books together with children to reinforce the value of zachor/remembrance and learn together about the need to keep family memories from being lost. If you would be interested in using this material, please see the Family Reading Program Section of my website for May/Iyar. May your memories of the month of May be filled with bright sunshine and spring flowers.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from my own collection or my local public library.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.