Archive for the ‘Jewish values’ Category
“Among those who stand, do not sit; among those who sit, do not stand;
among those who laugh, do not weep; among those who weep, do not laugh.”
When we moved to Washington, DC, we left our car in California. At least until I find a job that may require me to have an automobile, we are using public transportation. “The District” has an outstanding mass transit system composed of Metro Rail and buses that can get you just about anywhere you need to go. I really love it. Mostly because while on the train or bus, I can read or do work – and yes, play Scrabble© on my iPhone! I also do not have to deal with traffic.
Many years ago, when I was a child, I would go into downtown Los Angeles with my grandmother (z’l) to go shopping. My grandmother did not drive, so we always took the bus. It was made very clear to me that I could have a seat on the bus only as long as everyone else was seated. However, the moment anyone older than me got on the bus and there was no seat available, I was to get up quickly and give them my seat. Back then, I do not recall there being special spaces reserved for “seniors and disabled persons.” It seems everyone knew that common courtesy was offered to the elderly, the blind, individuals in wheelchairs or with canes, pregnant women, women with babies, etc.
Something has certainly changed in the years since I made those trips downtown with my grandmother. I know I raised my children to get up and give their seat to others. I do not see that those guidelines have been shared with others. Or is it just that “My mother is not around, so I don’t have to play by her rules”? It’s unfortunate. I stare in wonder while healthy, able young people sit in the front of the bus with music blasting through their ear plugs, eyes fixed to their cell phone screens, fingers busily typing as older or disabled people walk by with no place to sit. If I am not already standing up, I give my seat to the new arrivals. Do I want to put my face up next to these youngsters and tell them to get up? Of course, but it is not my message to deliver (at least according to my husband and children.) Instead, I’ll use my experiences as an example and deliver the message here: we must teach our children Derekh Eretz (literally “the way of the land”)/Common decency and good manners. They should know that this is the behavior we expect from them as they travel through life. After all, isn’t this just an offshoot of the Golden Rule: “Do unto others…”?
Here are a few great books that may support you in your lessons:
Manners written and illustrated by Aliki. ©1997, Greenwillow Books. Ages 4-8. This timeless classic uses role playing and descriptive illustrations to illustrate the Do’s and Don’ts of proper behavior. There is certain to be some giggling while watching bad table behavior, and some knowing smiles regarding sharing and tantrums. In the end, however, everyone should come away with a clear understanding of the proper way to behave in a variety of situations.
Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners written and illustrated by Laurie Keller. ©2007, Henry Holt and Company. Ages 5-9. A family of otters has moved in next door to Mr. Rabbit. Since he does not know anything about otters, he is very nervous that they will be mean, like his previous neighbor, Mrs. Grrrrrrr. As he tells Mr. Owl what he would expect from his new neighbors, it becomes clear that he will have nothing to worry about…as long as he will just “Doo-Dee-Doo unto otters as [he]would have otters Doo-Dee-Doo unto [him].” The delightful illustrations enhance the lessons here.
Mind Your Manners, B. B. Wolf by Judy Sierra. Illustrated by Jotto Seibold. ©2007, Alfred A. Knopf. Ages 5-9. When the Big Bad Wolf is invited to a tea party at the library, he is not sure what to do. After his best friend, the crocodile, gets out the Big Wide Book of Etiquette and explains the rules of “taking tea,” B.B. decides he will attend. All the major storybook characters are there, and quite frightened when he shows up. But he is on his best behavior, at least as long as he can be. Hilarity abounds for everyone when B. B. Wolf comes to the party.
365 Manners Kids Should Know: Games, Activities, and Other Fun Ways to Help Children and Teens Learn Etiquette by Sheryl Eberly with Caroline Eberly. ©2011, Three Rivers Press. Ages 9-Adult. For every day of the year, for every behavioral topic, this mother-daughter team has created a brief, but extremely helpful piece of information often accompanied by an activity or a tip to get you started applying the message immediately. From “Opening Doors” to “Internet Safety,” from “getting Along With Other Kids” to “Being Green,” I was unable to find a topic that was not covered by these two where manners was concerned. Whether you have your child read this to work on some projects or read this as a family and work on things together, there is a wealth of superb information inside these covers.
©2013 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 deeply appreciate your support.
I often read Psalms when I am in of need support. While I sometimes do not understand everything I am reading, I find the words calming and comforting. Recently, however, the words of Psalm 30 have taken on an interesting meaning for me:
You have changed my grieving into dancing!
Thrown off my mourning clothes and dressed me in joy
So that my whole being might sing to you without ceasing
Pouring out my gratitude without end.
~ from Opening to You: Zen Inspired Translations of the Psalms by Norman Fischer. ©2002. Penguin Putnam, Inc.
It’s as though the Psalm writer is saying, “Life threw lemons at me and God helped me make lemonade! I am so grateful.” I think my most recent life experiences have opened my eyes to this new meaning.
These life experiences have caused me to think a lot about Resilience. You see, in the past 6 years my family has dealt with serious medical issues, employment issues, financial issues, unexpected deaths and lots of relocation.
I am not sharing this information to gain pity or because I believe my family has had a more difficult time than any other. During this same time the American economy has been in collapse, a Tsunami hit Japan, an earthquake struck China, Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast and untold other tragedies took countless lives and affected other families all over the world. No, this past 6 years has not been easy…for many people.
What I know for myself during this trying time, however, has been that in spite of my family and friends shaking their heads and wondering “how I was getting through all this,” I never really thought I had any choice but to get through it.
Somewhere, a long time ago, I learned two very valuable lessons
1) “The best way out is always through.” ~ Robert Frost
2) “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
Somewhere a long time ago, I learned…Resilience.
I know that reading a boat load of books with excellent values content had a lot to do with my learning Resilience, but so have an unshakeable marriage, a loving family, strong friendships, and a deep faith. I wish you all these and more in the days ahead.
Here are books that can help you teach your child about resilience:
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? By Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Mark Teague. ©2000. Scholastic, Inc. Ages 2 -6. Going to bed in an orderly manner is a good way to make life palatable for everyone. I grew up with a lot of rules. My kids probably had a few less, but they still knew where the boundaries were. Rules are important. Rules, boundaries and structure build resilience. The entire How Do Dinosaurs… series is about starting children out with rules. They are all great.
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity. Written and Illustrated by Mo Willems. ©2007. Hyperion Books. Ages 3 -6. I love the Knuffle Bunny books. This one is about starting a friendship. If it were not for my friends, friends who I could talk to about anything and everything, I would not have gotten through any of the experiences I have had in my life. Friendships are another way to help children build resilience.
The Kissing Hand. By Audrey Penn. Illustrated by Ruth E. Harper & Nancy M. Leak. ©2006. Tanglewood Press. Ages 4-8. Chester Raccoon is afraid to go to school. His mom shares the family secret with him – The Kissing Hand. It is always good to know that no matter what, your family will always be there.
I Can Hear the Sun. Written and Illustrated by Patricia Polacco. ©1996. Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. Ages 7-11. A homeless, orphan finds his way to Lake Merritt and begins to assist the caretaker there with the geese. His courage, faith and hope inspire everyone he meets
May B.: A Novel. By Caroline Starr Rose. ©2012. Schwartz & Wade Books. Ages 9-12. An incredible story set in the 1800s. Written in free-verse, a young girl is sent by her parents to help in a neighbor’s homestead in the Kansas prairie. Abandoned by her hosts and burdened by low esteem caused by learning disabilities, she finds the inner strength necessary to insure her own survival.
White Fang. By Jack London. ©1906. Many editions. Ages 11-16. The classic story of a wolf/dog that survives the most terrible abuse at the hands of men, yet its spirit remains unbroken and is reborn with the love and tenderness of a kind and gentle human being.
The Blessing of a B Minus: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Resilient Teens. By Wendy Mogul, Ph.D. ©2010. Scribner. Adults. An excellent resource for parents looking to raise children into strong adults, this companion volume continues the lessons learned in The Blessing of a Skinned Knee.
©2013 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
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 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.
It is hard to imagine that this month we will be ending our survey of the Eilu D’varim prayer and all the values it contains, but here we are. As I sat in Shabbat morning services this weekend, reciting this amazing prayer, I could not help but think about how far we have journeyed together these past nine months. Beginning with honoring our parents and right on through making peace among people, we have explored the wealth of values not only in this prayer, but in an incredible number of children’s books that support those values. The most important lesson I hope to have taught each of you is that as the Values Educators for the children in your care – and YOU the parents, grandparents and teachers of these children are their Values Educators – there is a wealth of resources at your disposal at your local library, in your local bookstore and online. You just have to know how to discover it.
We are ending on the most important value of all, the study of Torah encompasses them all/talmud Torah k’neged kulam. As the first century Rabbi Ben Bag Bag says about Torah in Pirke Avot /Sayings of the Fathers (5:26) “Turn it and turn it again for everything is in it.” All the values we have read about thus far and so many more can be found in the pages and stories that come from the pages of Torah. Here are a few books to get you and your family started on this important and lifelong mitzvah (commandment):
Naamah and the Ark at Night by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Illustrated by Holly Meade. Candlewick Press, ©2011. Ages 3-8. Noah’s wife, Naamah, sings the restless animals and her family to sleep during a stormy night aboard the ark. Beautiful collage and watercolor illustrations support the lyrical, rhyming lullaby.
The Seventh Day by Deborah Bodin Cohen. Illustrated by Melanie Hall. Kar-Ben Publishing, ©2005. Ages 3-8. Just like an artist, God worked hard molding, painting and singing the world into being until it was exactly as it should be. Then God rested and created Shabbat.
Abraham’s Search for God by Jacqueline Jules. Illustrated by Natascia Ugliano. Kar-Ben Publishing, © 2007. Ages 4-8. Abraham is considered the father of three great religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As a child he questioned the idol worship of his family and searched for the powerful One God.
The Coat of Many Colors by Jenny Koralek. Illustrated by Pauline Baynes. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers., © 2004. Ages 5-10. The biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors is retold in language for the young.
Green Bible Stories for Children by Tami Lehman Wilzig. Illustrated by Durga Yael Bernard. Kar-Ben Publishing, © 2011. Ages 8-11. The retelling of well known bible stories with “reuse-renew-recycle” lessons.
Masada: The Last Fortress by Gloria D. Miklowitz. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers., © 1998. Ages 11-14. Simon ben-Eleazar, the 17-year-old son of the leader of the Zealots on top of Masada, records the story of the battle between the Roman Army and a fierce group of Jews determined to live as free people in their homeland.
Pharaoh’s Daughter: A Novel of Ancient Egypt by Julius Lester. Harcourt, Inc., © 2000. Ages 12-18. A beautifully told Midrash (story based in Torah) about the life of Moses.
As you read these beautiful stories, you may want to compare them with the JPS Illustrated Children’s Bible, an excellent, award winning resource for your family, as is of course a copy of the Tanakh for older readers. Whichever you prefer, you will find some excellent discussion questions and activities for Torah Study in the Speak Volumes Guide for this month.
©2012 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from 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.
First let me apologize for skipping the month of April. I moved from Massachusetts to California and found myself over my head in the details of that 3,000 mile journey. I guess in some ways I was on my own Exodus. We were supposed to have looked at the value of iyun t’filah/being devoted in prayer. Since April was the month we celebrated Passover, I am hoping everyone had a wonderful, engaging and prayerful Seder.
This month our Eilu D’varim/These are the obligations journey has us looking at Ahavaat Shalom Bein Adam Lachaveiro/Making Peace Among People. I find myself recallng the words to The Hammer Song (by Lee Hays and Pete Seeger,) which my family sings every year at our Passover Seders.
“If I had a hammer/I’d hammer in the morning/I’d hammer in the evening/All over this land/I’d hammer out /I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters/All over this land.”
What I love most about this song is how it is so focused on the individual. It does not talk about the hammering of a group, a committee, a country or the world. No, just one individual with his or her hammer, bell and song is running around hammering, ringing and singing about “love between my brothers and my sisters.” So simple, yet that is all it takes. One person, each one of us, taking our talents in hand and making our families more peaceful, our communities more peaceful, our world more peaceful. Imagine.
Oh, and that was another great song.
Here is a list of wonderful books about peace that may help you and your family find some of those hammers, bells and songs.
A Little Peace by Barbara Kerley. National Geographic Society, © 2007. Ages 3-6. Each individual has the ability to spread “a little peace” wherever they go.
Peace Week in Miss Fox’s Class by Eileen Spinelli. Illustrated by Anne Kennedy. Albert Whitman & Company, © 2009. Ages 4-8. Miss Fox’s students are constantly bickering with each other, and she is tired of listening to it. She declares “Peace Week,” a week of respect and kindness for everyone. It starts out to be very difficult, but after a few days, the class is wondering why every week isn’t Peace Week.
Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace written and illustrated by James Proimos. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, © 2009. Ages 4-8. At seven years of age, Paulie Pastrami began to make the world a better place by doing small things like being kind to animals and taking care of plants. When he decided he must achieve World Peace, he got a lot of cupcakes, his dad to drive him around, and … well, you can read the rest
Cain & Abel: Finding the Fruits of Peace by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. Illustrated by Joani Keller Rothenberg. Jewish Lights Publishing., © 2001. Ages 6-9. The biblical story (Genesis 4: 1-16) of the first case of sibling rivalry is retold here in a way that explores the reasons for Cain’s anger, the cause of Abel’s death and the lasting effects of both on today’s world.
Peace One Day: The Making of World Peace Day by Jeremy Gilley. Illustrated by Karen Blessen. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, © 2005. Ages 8-11. One person can make a difference, as Jeremy Gilley proves with his persistence in writing letters and travelling the world in order to get two country’s leaders to sponsor a World Peace Day amendment at the United Nations.
The Cupcake Club: Peace, Love and Cupcakes by Sheryl Berk and Carrie Berk. Sourcebooks, Inc., © 2012. Ages 9-12. How do you take on someone who is making your life miserable? By doing something delicious.
The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci. Illustrated by Jim Rugg. Minx, © 2007. Ages 11-15. When her parents move her out of New York City and into the suburbs, Jane thinks her life is over. Then she meets a group of girls who meet her standards for “changing the world.”
The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle. Ages 13-18. Henry Holt and Company, © 2008. Using free verse, Margarita Engle tells the story of a freed slave who becomes a healer watching her country fighting for freedom.
Please feel free to use the discussion questions and activities provided in the Speak Volumes Guide for this month to help you discuss Ahavaat Shalom Bein Adam Lachaveiro/Making Peace Among People with your children.