Archive for the ‘Jewish values’ 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…



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.



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 All rights reserved.

A well to draw from: hanotein layaeif koach/ who gives strength to the weary

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 eighth 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 the weary.”

 In October 2000, my sister and I walked the Avon 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk (Back then it was a 3-day, 60 Mile walk!) in honor of our mother z’l, a survivor of breast cancer. The walk began in Santa Barbara, CA and ended in Malibu, CA. It was an incredible experience. One I hope to participate in again someday.

Along with fundraising, I trained for the walk for months ahead of time. However, no amount of training could have prepared us for the massive rain storm that hit the coast of California the Sunday morning of our walk. My sister and I were determined to finish, in spite of the rain, but we had different walking styles. We therefore agreed to split up (she being the faster walker), meet at the designated rest stop one mile before the end and walk that last mile together.

I walked…and walked…and walked. 20 miles is a long walk in the best of weather, but with rain pouring down and wind blowing around and the temperature dropping by the minute, those 20 miles felt like 1000. Still, I walked. And I prayed, really I sang to myself, Debbie Friedman’s (z’l) Mi Shebeirach, over and over, to give myself the strength and courage to take the next step, then the next. It was amazing to me, how much strength I gained from singing and walking, as if I had a well inside me  filled with energy from which to draw whatever strength I needed to continue. During that time, I felt I could actually walk to the moon and back!

While I did not make it to the moon, or to the finish line (another long story,) I was given the strength to walk 59 miles on my own two feet for this very important cause. Mi Shebeirach has become my anthem for any situations in which I find myself low on reserves, but in need of strength to continue the task at hand. I hope you will find a similar talisman for the trying times life often throws along life’s journey.

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.


BraveIreneBrave Irene Written and Illustrated by William Steig. ©1986. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Ages 6-10. Irene’s mother has made a most beautiful dress for The Duchess to wear at tonight’s Ball, but she is too sick to deliver it. Can Irene make it through the blizzard and deliver the dress before it is needed? Irene is loving, strong and brave…so of course she can!


 The Little Engine that Could. Retold By Watty Piper. Illustrated by George & Doris Hauman. ©1930. 1976. Grosset & Dunlap. Ages 2-8.  In this classic story, a little train helps get a cLittleEngineargo of charming, fun toys and delicious, healthy food to the good girls and boys on the other side of the mountain. “I think I can. I think I can….I thought I could. I thought I could!” A timeless message for young children.


ManTowersThe Man Who walked Between the Towers. Written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein. ©2003. Roaring Brook Press. Ages 5-9.  Imagine your goal is to walk on a tightrope as high in the air as you possibly can. There was a young man who did this once. He walked between the Twin Towers in New York City, NY. Why, how and what happened after he did it are all beautifully explained and drawn in this Caldecott Award winning picture book.



Sparrow Girl. Written by Sarah Pennypacker. Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. ©2009. Disney-Hyperion Books. Ages 5-9. What do you do when you are small and young and someone older and, supposedly, wiser tells you to do something that you know is wrong? When Mao Tse-Tung declared a war on sparrows in China, 1958, Ming-Li knew there would be problems, so she quietly, secretly and courageously saved 7 sparrows. However, the lack of sparrows to eat the insects caused a flourishing locust population that ate all the grain and China suffered a huge famine that killed over 40 million people. Except in Ming-Li’s town where 7 sparrows helped her village survive.


©2014 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and 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.


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.


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 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.



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 All rights reserved.

A Thanksgivukkah Book List

Books used in this review are from my personal library, were provided as review copies by the publisher or come from 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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Although I am not fond of this Hanukkah + Thanksgiving = “Thansgivukkah” idea, the fact is it has infiltrated the Jewish world like a virus. T-shirts, Turkey Menorahs, special holiday recipes and crafts abound! So, while my family and I will be celebrating the holidays as separately as we can, I am succumbing to the desire to provide some additional information for those that want it. Hence this list of books compiled at the behest of Heidi Estrin, friend, Librarian extraordinaire, and President of the Association of Jewish Libraries, who has an outstanding list on Facebook.

I have not, as yet, found a “Thanksgivukkah” title – nor will we need one for another 80,000 years – so we will have to satisfy ourselves with what we have. Below, please find a list of the books I have recommended for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah over the past few years:


adamevesunsetAdam & Eve’s First Sunset: God’s New Day. Written by Sandy Sasso Eisendberg. Illustrated by Joani Keller Rothenberg. Jewish Lights Publishing, ©2003. Ages 6-10. On their first day in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve notice that the sun is moving down in the sky. Try as they might, nothing they can do – neither praise nor shouting – will stop the sun from setting and disappearing. Even though God teaches them to create fire, they spend the night cold, afraid and restless. When the sun comes up the next morning, they realize that day and night are part of God’s creation, for which they are very thankful.

All of Me!

All of Me! A Book of Thanks. Written and illustrated by Molly Bang. Scholastic, Inc., ©2009. Ages 3-7. This is the perfect book to introduce young children to thanking God for the miracle of the human body and all its functions. Using charming, bright illustrations and simple text, it celebrates the head to toe, inside and outside marvel that is each and every one of us.

onefeastmouseOne is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale. Written by Judy Cox. Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Holiday House, ©2008. Ages 4-8. After Thanksgiving dinner, when everyone is resting after the feast, Mouse sneaks out to find a little something. He spies a pea, a perfect dinner for a little mouse, but then he sees a cranberry, an olive, a carrot, mashed potatoes…sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomach and can lead us into big trouble!

splattySplat Says Thank You! Written and illustrated by Rob Scotton. HarperCollins Publishers, ©2012. Ages 3-8. Splat the Cat’s friend, Seymour the Mouse, is very sick with spots all over his body. To make Seymour smile, Splat creates a Friendship Book filled with pictures and memories of all the times Seymour has helped Splat. It is Splat’s way of saying “Thank You” to Seymour for being “my smallest friend and my biggest.”


The Table Where Rich People Sit By Byrd Baylor. Illustrated by Peter Parnall. Aladdin Paperbacks, © 1994. Ages 4-8. A young girl wants to prove to her parents that the family is poor, until they show her that money may not be everything that makes a family rich.


 Thank You, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving by Laurie Halse Anderson. Illustrated by Matt Faulkner. © 2002, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Ages 5-10. “Pick up your pen. Change the world.” That is what Sarah Hale did, and because she did, we celebrate Thanksgiving every year.  It took this strong, dynamic woman over 38 years to get an American president to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. This is the remarkable story of how she did it.

towncountrymouseTown Mouse, Country Mouse By Jan Brett. Illustrated by Jan Brett. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, © 1994. Ages 4-8. The classic fable with the moral: Better poor and peaceful than rich and fearful.



chanukahlightChanukah Lights by Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Robert Sabuda. © 2011, Candlewick Press. Ages 6-Adult. Winner of the 2012 Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Book Awards (the Jewish equivalent of the Caldecott Honor), this marvel of pop-up engineering takes the reader on a 2000 year tour through Jewish history. From the Temple in Jerusalem where Hanukkah began, across deserts, over oceans, into shtetls and onto kibbutz farm land, each two page spread is an enriching and engaging exploration of how the Hanukkah lights have always been a beacon of hope for the Jewish people.

borisstellaBoris and Stella and the Perfect Gift written and illustrated by Dara Goldman. © 2013 Sleeping Bear Press. Ages 5-9. Boris and Stella love each other very much. So at Christmas time, Boris wants to give Stella something beautiful for her Christmas tree. At Hanukkah, Stella wants to give Boris the most exquisite driedel for his collection. When the time comes to exchange gifts, however, they realize how little gifts matter and how much they really do love each other. A lovely interfaith rendition of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi.”

Harvest of LightHarvest of Light by Alison Ofanansky. Photographs by Eliyahu Alpern. © 2008 Kar-Ben Publishing. Ages 4-9.  Imagine gathering the olives that will make the oil to be used to light your Hanukkah menorah. In this wonderful picture book, we once again join the Israeli family as they take us step-by-step through the process of harvesting the olives from the trees, sorting them, cleaning them and taking them to the press to be made into olive oil for their food and fuel.

HershelandhanukkahgoblinsHershel and the Hanukkah Goblins By Eric Kimmel. Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. Holiday House,  ©1985. Ages 5-9. If I was stranded on a desert island, this is the one book I would want to have with me. I read this book every Hanukkah, to children and adults alike, as the story of Hershel outwitting the King of the Goblins and winning back Hanukkah for a poor town is just that good.

hanukkahbearHanukkah Bear by Eric Kimmel. Illustrated by Wohnoutka. Holiday House, ©2013. Ages 5-9. In this shortened, re-illustrated version of Kimmel’s Chanukah Guest, we still find the near-sighted, hard-of-hearing Bubbe mistaking a bear for her rabbi and cooking up her world famous latkes, lighting the menorah and playing driedel with him. All the charm and hilarity of the story, fortunately, was left intact.

dinoschanukahHow Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? By Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague. Scholastic, Inc., ©2012. Ages 3-8.  The How Do Dinosaurs…series is among my favorites, as they provide parents and children with a variety of laughable situations to review proper behavior. Yolen and Teague’s newest book once again uses their rowdy dinosaurs to demonstrate the appropriate form-this time of Chanukah conduct.

mytwoholidaysMy Two Holidays: A Hanukkah and Christmas Story By Danielle Novack. Illustrated by Phyllis Harris. Scholastic, Inc., ©2010. Ages 3-8. As Sam listens to his classmates, he learns that they all celebrate just one holiday – Christmas or Hanukkah—while he and his family celebrate two – Christmas AND Hanukkah. He is embarrassed to tell this to his friends, until he talks to his mother. She explains that their celebrations are “one of the things that makes their family special.”


Sadie’s Almost Marvelous Menorah by Jamie Korngold. Illustrated by Julie Fortenberry. © 2013 Kar-Ben Publishing. Ages 3-8. What happens when you spend days making a Marvelous Hanukkah Menorah, but smash it when you run to show it to your mom? Well, if you are Sadie, you come up with a wonderful new tradition for your family! A beautifully illustrated, charmingly told story of turning heartbreak into delight.

Snowsnowdaymouse Day for MouseBy Judy Cox. Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler. Holiday House, ©2012. Ages 3-8. Mouse is back (One is a Feast for Mouse) and excited that snow is falling. A snow day has been declared, so there is no school. Mom is baking cookies, and Mouse is picking up the crumbs when Mom gets out the broom and sweeps him out the door with Cat! Fortunately, three kind-hearted birds protect Mouse from Cat and help him enjoy the time outside. Mouse repays their kindness with some generosity of his own.


 ©2013 Kathy Bloomfield and All rights reserved.

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