Archive for the ‘Jewish Prayer’ Category

Look around, just look around! Hamaavir sheinah meieinai, ut’numah meiafapai/ Who removes sleep from the eyes, slumber from the eyelids

Books used in this review are from my personal library or were provided by my local public library. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my website 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.

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 We are on the ninth blessing of the Nisim B’Chol Yom/the blessings for daily miracles recited during morning prayers:

“Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe,

Who removes sleep from the eyes, slumber from the eyelids.”

Passover begins in one week, on the evening of Monday, April 14 with the first Seder. This blessing is such an interesting way to begin the Passover season. Because I am always a bit stressed out as I prepare my home for the Seder we host every year, I tend to get lost in all the details of writing our Haggadah, planning the menu, figuring out how the plagues are going to be presented, and of course, who we are inviting and who is coming. I am reading tons of material to make this year’s Seder different from last year’s. I am blinded by the amount of effort that goes into all of this.

Reading this blessing reminds me that I must not go through this with my eyes closed! In fact, I must remember this Bible story:

“Now Moses, tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, drove the flock into the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. An angel of Adonai appeared to him in a blaze of fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed. Moses said, “I must turn aside to look at this marvelous sight; why doesn’t the bush burn up? When Adonai saw that he had turned aside, God called to him out of the bush: “Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” And God said, “Do not come closer. Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground…” (Exodus 3:1-5)  

What made Moses notice the bush in the first place? Then, once noticed, look deeper to see that the bush was burning, yet not consumed? Moses’ eyes were clearly wide open! How many things might we be missing in a day as we drive to work, rush through our daily tasks, and hurry to get home? It is spring (finally!) here on the east coast – the trees are blooming, the birds are singing. Let’s thank God for eyes that can see and stop and take some time to notice the beautiful world around us.

Happy Reading and Happy Passover!

Kathy B.

 

SeeWhaleIf You Want to See a Whale by Julie Folgliano. Illustrated by Erin E. Stead. ©2013. Roaring Brook Press. Ages 3-8.  In this beautiful book, children will learn about all the things they should not see while searching for a whale. Oh, but during that search, there is so much to look at while you wait…and wait…and wait…

 

kinglittlethings

The King of Little Things by Bill Lepp. Illustrated by David T. Wenzel. ©2013. Peachtree Publishers. Ages 4-8.  Have you ever heard about “the little things”?  How important they are? How you need to pay attention to them? In this story, a very big king thought he could overlook the little things and learned a very big lesson.

 

manviolinThe Man with the Violin by Kathy Stinson. Illustrated by Dušan Petričić. ©2013. Annick Press, Ltd. Ages 4-8. Dylan heard the music playing in the train station, and he was transformed. He wanted to stop and listen, but his mother was in a hurry. They rushed to meet their train, they rushed to do their chores, they rushed all through their day, as the music continued to play in Dylan’s head.  When Dylan heard the music again, on the radio, he grabbed his mother from the kitchen and made her listen—to Joshua Bell playing beautiful music on his Stradivarius violin. Based on a true story.

 

Ferdinand

The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Illustrated by Robert Lawson. ©1936. Grosset & Dunlap. Ages 4-10. The classic story about a friendly bull who does not want to fight anyone, he just wants to sit—quietly and peacefully—under his favorite tree and smell the flowers all day long.

 

ZoomZoom Written and illustrated by Istvan Banyai. ©1998. Puffin. Ages 4-9. Look at the first picture, and what do you see? A rooster on a farm, so this is a book about a farm! Better keep zooming…As with all things in life, how you see something is all about perspective.

 

 

©2014 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com. All rights reserved.

Keeping Out Winter’s Chill: Malbish Arumim/ Who Clothes the Naked

Books used in this review are from my personal library or were provided by my local public library. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my website 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.

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We are on the seventh blessing of the Nisim B’Chol Yom/the blessings for daily miracles recited during morning prayers:

 “Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe,

Who clothes the naked.”

It is definitely winter in Washington, DC. The weather people are explaining that something called a Polar Vortex has moved into the region causing temperatures in the single digits with a wind chill that is below zero.  This California Girl has never been so cold. I am, therefore, layering on as many clothes as I can.

Yet I see people on the streets – old and young, working and homeless – who are not wearing nearly enough to keep out this kind of cold. The newspaper is filled with stories of overfilled shelters, underfunded elderly who cannot afford more heat, and homeless huddled on the streets around heating grates, alongside the stories of year end executive bonuses, corporate earnings and the so-called end of the recession or beginning of another one, depending on what you read. The Polar Vortex and Mother Nature care little about any of that. It’s winter, the snow is falling and the temperature is dropping, setting new records for cold! Since each of us contains a piece of God’s light inside of us (that is my belief, anyway,) buying some extra blankets, perhaps participating in a winter coat drive, and distributing the items to whoever needs them most in our communities is God’s way of “clothing the naked.” Just a thought.

Happy Reading!

Kathy B. 

 

LadyinBoxThe Lady in the Box. By Anne McGovern. Illustrated By Marni Backer. ©2004. Turtle Books. Ages 5-9.  During the snowy, winter holiday season, a brother and sister secretly try to help a woman they see sleeping in a box outside of their local deli. The deli owner wants the woman to move away from the warm front of his store. However, when their mother finds out what they are doing and the woman’s plight, she gets involved and changes everything.

Lily and the Paper Man. Written and illustrated by Rebecca Upjohn. ©2007. Second Story Press. Ages 6-10.  Lily is frightened when she sees a ragged, grumpy man sellingLilyPaperMan papers on the street one day. She insists that her mother take her home from school on the bus to avoid him.  When winter comes around,  Lily notices the man has holes in his shoes and coat, no socks and a thin shirt and pants. She realizes she cannot ignore him any longer and must do something to help.

RagCoat

The Rag Coat. Written and Illustrated By Lauren Mills. ©1991. Little Brown Books for Young Readers. Ages 5-9.  A young Appalachian girl must have a coat in order to attend school in the cold Appalachian Mountains. When the Quilting Mothers group creates a coat of clothing scraps, her classmates laugh at her, until she tells them the stories that accompany each piece of cloth.

ShelterCar

A Shelter in Our Car. by Monica Gunning. Illustrated by Elaine Pedlar. ©2004. Children’s Book Press. Ages 6-10. When 8-year-old Zettie’s father dies, she and her mother leave Jamaica and go to America in search of better opportunities. Harassed by police, bullied by her classmates and frightened by all that is happening around her, Zettie maintains her strength with the constant love and support of her mother. When eventually the tide turns, these two strong females are sure to leave a lasting impression on you and your family.

 

©2014 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com. All rights reserved.

The Four Corners of Our Feet: Hameichin Mitzadei Gaver/ Who Strengthens Our Steps

Books used in this review are from my personal library or were provided by my local public library. I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my website 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.
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We are on the sixth blessing of the Nisim B’Chol Yom/the blessings for daily miracles recited during morning prayers:

 

“Praise to You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe,

Who strengthens our steps.”

 

For a number of reasons, I recently began practicing Yoga (again!) I want to see if keeping my body a bit more flexible will assist in alleviating some of the discomfort I have been experiencing in my back and neck. While doing the practice, I have discovered that rather than focusing on my spine, arms or legs, I seem to be concentrating on what my feet are doing. The teacher I use encourages me to “stand on the four corners of” my feet. Interestingly, when I do that, the rest of my body seems to fall into place.

While I certainly understand what it means to “be grounded” and have discovered many ways to get myself to that feeling, the Yoga experience is slightly different. Rather than “grounding” myself to keep my head connected to my body, Yoga enables me to “ground” myself in order to keep all the parts of my body connected, healthy and working together. The experience is extraordinary and strengthening.

Prayer, “grounding,” Yoga or some other focused meditation on our feet, is a powerful way to connect with our life’s path. It appears that in “strengthening our steps,” The Holy One of Being points us in the right direction for whatever journey we may be taking today.

Happy Reading!

 

Kathy B.

 dancingWingsDancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen. Illustrated by Kadir Nelson. ©2000. Philomel. Ages 6-10.  What do you do when your too-big feet, your too-long legs and your big mouth get in the way of your dream of becoming a star ballerina? Sassy does everything she can to realize her dream when the Dance Festival Director comes to town to audition students, but may have gone too far with the orange leotard. Based on the author’s true life experiences.

 

FootBook

The Foot Book Written and Illustrated By Dr. Seuss. ©1968. Random House. Ages 3-7.  Who knows more about feet and what they can do than Dr. Seuss? “Oh, how many feet you meet!”

 

 HarrisFeetHarris Finds His Feet Written and Illustrated By Catherine Rayner. ©2008. Good Books. Ages 5-8.  Harris wants to know why he has such big feet. So he asks his Grandpa who leads him on a wondrous journey of discovery and ultimately independence.

 

The Queen’s Feet by Sarah Ellis. Illustrated by Dušan Petričić. ©2006. Red Deer Press. Ages 5-8. Queen Daisy is a wonderful ruler, except that her feet have a mind of their own. Whether tap dancing or walking in the fish pond, wearing boots that thumped through the palace halls or sandals to show off her toenail polish, her feet did and wore whatever they QueensFeetwanted. All that was fine, until her feet kicked a visiting king in the shins – well, he was a bully – but that was rude! Then the wizards and wise people of the country had to get involved.

 

©2014 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com. All rights reserved.

Who Has Such Things in This World

Snow, everywhere I look I see snow, piles and mountains of snow. When it has not been snowing, it is cold – Freezing cold, in the 5s, 10s, 20s and 30s cold. One morning I got in my car and the thermometer read “0″ – Z.E.R.O.  Now I know there are parts of the country, and the world for that matter, where these temperatures would feel balmy, but for this transplanted California girl, enough is enough. I have really had it with snow and cold and winter.

Yet there are moments when I look out my office window to my back yard and see a vast sea of whiteness that simply takes my breath away. How beautiful is that? I think to myself.  Or when I watch snow falling, little puffs of white floating down from on high, that I still think of as a miracle.  Or as I am out walking during a snow fall, and the temperature is just right so that individual snowflakes drop on my parka, and I see each one is unique and beautiful. Amazing, I think.

I could not find a Hebrew blessing for snow. What I use is the blessing for nature’s beauty, because no matter what, there is real beauty in watching the snow fall.

Baruch attah Adonai eloheinu melech ha-olam,
shekachah lo b’olamo.

Blessed are You, Creator of the Universe,
Who has things such as this in Your world.

There are a few wonderful books about snow that I have found to be interesting and enlightening in my own search for knowledge about this wondrous experience. You might want to share them  with your children:

Snow written and illustrated by Uri Schulevitz. ©1998, Farrar Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers.  First a single snowflake falls from the sky, then two, then three.  All the while, a young boy and his dog know it is snowing. The adults, the radio and the television all insist, “No snow.” When all the rooftops are white, the boy and his dog run out to play, while everyone else takes shelter. The illustrations are sublime. Ages 4-8.


Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Illustrated by Mary Azarian. ©1998, Houghton Mifflin Company. Winner of the Caldecott Medal. The first time a real snowflake – and another and another – landed on my coat and I saw that indeed each one was unique and exquisite, I said the Shehecheyanu Blessing: Thank you God for letting me live to see this moment.  The next thing I did was find a copy of this book.  Wilson Bentley lived his life studying snowflakes.  This beautifully illustrated and marvelously written book explains why. However, if you stand outside during a snowfall and look at the snowflakes that land on your coat, you will understand.  Ages 5-10.

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino with John Nelson, Ph.D. ©2009, Chronicle Books.  This exceptional, award-winning science book explains exactly how snow crystals are made, the different shapes they can grow in (stars, plates and columns) and whether they are truly unique.  There are also tips for catching and studying snow crystals on your own.  The illustrations are mostly photographs of actual snow crystals.  Ages 5-10.

Under the Snow by Melissa Stewart. Illustrated by Constance R. Bergum.  ©2009, Peachtree Publishers.  When I have absolutely reached my limit with winter, wondering what I am doing in the frozen Northeast, I say to my husband, “Animals hibernate in this weather!”  This is exactly the book I need to prove my position. With simple text and gorgeous illustrations, we can see that animals do know how to handle the cold better than we do – they just sleep through it! I particularly love the woodchuck because it “sleeps soundly all winter” getting “all the energy it needs from its thick layer of fat.”  Perhaps I just need to sleep more? Ages 4-9.

Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part to believe that writing about snow will put an end to the fierce winter we have had so far this year.  A California Girl can hope, can’t she? Nevertheless, if another snowstorm, or two, or…comes our way before winter’s end, I will be prepared with books and blessings.

Happy Readings,

Kathy B.


©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com 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.

What About the Rest? Part I: Jewish Books for Younger Readers

Having selected my three top choices for the best Jewish children’s books for 2010: The Rooster Prince of Breslov, Hereville and Life, After,  I am feeling a bit guilty about the books I left on the table. Those books that were also great but a choice had to be made, so some excellent books are just sitting here. My list of good Jewish books for 2010 is quite long. In fact, I will add many 2010 books to the forwordsbooks Catalog of Books. Nevertheless, I will follow my rule and go with the standouts – those books I remember and will recommend from the stacks of books I read this year – in choosing titles for my “pretty close to best” list. In keeping with models I have seen elsewhere, I have chosen an additional seven titles, making my list a nice round 10 for 2010.

Jewish Books for Younger Readers (Picture Books)

My problem is I rarely read a children’s picture book I don’t like in some way (unless there is some human-animal conversation in a non-fantasy based story book.) I will admit, however, to being bored reading the same themes in many Jewish picture books, particularly Jewish holidays, Bible stories and the Jewish immigrant experience. That being said, even those subjects can be brought to life in new and creative ways by a talented author and/or illustrator.

After The Rooster Prince of Breslov, which I will continue to say blew me out of the water, there were three additional books for younger readers that really stood out for me this year:

Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Claire A. Nivola. Ages 5-10. ©2010, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children. “Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,/I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” ~ from The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus ~ Having learned these words by heart in elementary school, I realized reading this marvelous book how much I did not know about the poem, its author and the times in which she lived. Emma Lazarus was able to become the voice of the Statue of Liberty because she met and supported the immigrants that came through New York. The watercolor and gouache illustrations accompanying the simple but powerful text are outstanding and highly reflective of early 19th century artwork.

Jackie’s Gift by Sharon Robinson. Illustrated by E. B. Lewis. ©2010, Viking. Ages 4-8. I am always in search of books about about interfaith relations, the December Dilemma, sharing holidays (not combining holidays) and the like, and while this book may not exactly be in that category, it is currently the closest thing we have been offered this year.  The great Jackie Robinson is moving two houses down from young baseball fan, Steve Satlow, who could not be happier. While some of his neighbors are angry that an African-American family is moving into the neighborhood, Steve and his Jewish-American family befriend the Robinsons the moment they move in. The new friendship blossoms until Jackie brings a Christmas tree over to the Satlows as a way to thank them for their warm welcome. Once the Robinson’s realize their mistake and the Satlow’s clear any misunderstanding, a family legend is born.  This charming story celebrates sharing traditions, fostering real friendship and the true meaning of giving.

Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Book Adapted by Sarah Gershman. Illustrated by Kristina Swarner. ©2010, EKS Publishing Company. Ages 2-8. In this companion volume to their Sydney Taylor Award winning, The Bedtime Shema: A Goodnight Book, Gershman and Swarner once again team up, this time to help us start the day thanking God for the gifts that surround us. Using simple language and soft, brightly colored illustrations, they set the tone for a day filled with wonder and gratitude. Excerpts from the traditional Morning Blessing prayers in Hebrew and English translation are provided in the back of the book along with an explanation of how to incorporate the Modeh Ani into your daily living.  Couple this with All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang and your family’s day will start off great.

Those are my picks for “pretty close to best” 2010 Jewish Books for Young Readers. Tomorrow, What About the Rest? Part II: “pretty close to best” Books for Older Readers (Middle Grades).

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by 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.

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