Archive for the ‘Jewish values’ Category

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.

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:

Thanksgiving

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.”

tablerichsit

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.

TYsarah

 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.

 

 Hanukkah

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.”

sadiemenorah

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 forwordsbooks.com. All rights reserved.

Standing Up Straight: Zokeif K’fufim/Who Straightens the Bent

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 fourth 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 straightens the bent.”

  Thus far, we have praised God for the miracle of awakening from a night of restful sleep with:

  • the awareness that it is day not night.
  • the ability to see the sun shining.
  • the muscles to free ourselves from the captivity of our bedding.

Now, we show gratitude to God for giving us the strength to get out of bed and stand up straight and tall as we begin our day. It all seems so simple, so easy. As healthy people, we rarely think about what it might be like to lose the ability to get out of bed in the morning.

Yet there is so much in today’s world that can weigh us down, overwhelm us, keep us bent. Physical impairments, emotional concerns, stress from work, home or family, not getting enough sleep, an improper diet, not enough exercise – any of these and more can turn us upside down. We all need help staying straight and strong – to get through each day.  Support can be found in many forms – a consistent exercise routine, regular meetings with friends or family, prayer, meditation, special diets or reading. Whatever the method, keeping ourselves and our growing families’ straight and strong is a valuable tool for getting through life, a tool for which we should be constantly thankful.

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.

Here are a few books to help start your day straight, strong and with lots of energy:

alefbetyogaAlef-Bet Yoga for Kids by Ruth Goldeen. Photos by Bill Goldeen. ©2009. KarBen Publishing. Ages 5-10. This excellent book will help your child understand the benefits of yoga stretches, while teaching them the Hebrew Alef-Bet at the same time. Make a game of it and spell out Hebrew words or names using the Alef-Bet poses provided.

hopjump

Hop, Hop, Jump! By Lauren Thompson. Illustrated by Jarret J. Krosoczka. ©2012. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. Ages 3-8. “Move your body!” begins this book and the kids pictured never stop jumping, stomping, hopping, shaking and moving until the very end. A great way to start any day.

 LoebshakinLisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ & Shakin’: The Air Band Song and Other Toe-Tapping Tunes by Lisa Loeb. Illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke. ©2013. Sterling Children’s books. Ages 4-10. Get out your air guitars, air drums and air pianos, it’s time to make a  little music! While you’re at it, shake your body, kick your feet and clap your hands. There is a whole lot of energy to be generated by the songs in this little book.

 StretchStretch by Doreen Croni. Illustrated by Scott Menchin. ©2009. Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Ages 3-6 years. Stretching is one of the best ways to keep muscles strong and limber. The pooch in this charming book demonstrates a variety of ways to stretch our muscles, including the muscles in our brain…by using our imagination!

 wakdragonWaking Dragons by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Derek Anderson. ©2012. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Ages 2-6. In the spirit of the “Dinosaurs…” books that Jane Yolen has written so beautifully, this book about a tiny knight who is responsible for making sure the house dragons get up and get ready for the day will have young and old giggling over how difficult it can actually be to get “some creatures” ready to start the day!

 

 ©2013 Kathy Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com. All rights reserved.

 

Blog Action Day 2013: Human Rights

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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I am honored to once again be participating in Blog Action Day, an annual free event that unites the world’s bloggers around a single theme for one day each year in order to raise awareness and understanding. This year’s theme is Human Rights.

In 1948, following the horrors of World War II, the United Nations created “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” a list of 30 ideas that represent the most basic rights of every human being. Since its creation, this document has been translated into 413 different languages making it the most translated text in the world.

It seems like simple common sense, right? Every human on this planet, no matter where they live, has certain fundamental rights that should be/must be protected. How, in a world filled with such technological prowess, medical knowledge, scientific genius and unbelievable wealth, can there be anyone, anywhere still suffering? Yet, you only have to pick up a newspaper, listen to the radio or watch the news to know that – even in our own country – some of these rights are not being respected, protected or preserved.

As always, my hope lies with the children and with those who write for and about them. The power of children’s literature can never be underestimated. That is why I continue to look for those books that empower parents to empower their children with the values and resources they will need in their future as caretakers and protectors of this world.

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.

Introduce your children to this amazing document using these kid-friendly books:

EveryHumanEvery Human has Rights: A Photographic Declaration for Kids by National Geographic with a foreword by Mary Robinson. ©2009, National Geographic Society. Ages 10-18. Each of the 30 statements in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is illustrated by a photograph which is accompanied by a caption explaining where the photo was taken and when. This is an excellent starting point for discussion with older kids as some of the photos are very clear examples of the statement involved, while others may require a bit of explanation.

BornFree

We are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures by Amnesty International. ©2008, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. Ages 7-12. In honor of the 60th  anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Amnesty International invited 30 world renowned children’s book illustrators to create illustrations for each of the 30 statements in the document. The product of their endeavor is a rich and powerful tribute to the meaning of the words as seen through the eyes of children.

 

TikvahRightsTikvah: Children’s Book Creators Reflect on Human Rights by Norman B. Stevens, with an introduction by Elie Wiesel. ©1999, North-South Books.  All Ages, Forty-four artists, 14 Caldecott Award winners, take the issue of Human Rights to heart. With pen and ink, brush and paint, and accompanying explanatory text, each artist takes us into an issue that resonates with them on a personal level. The power of their art, along with the power of their words cannot help but move you to action.

 

 ©2013 Kathy Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com. All rights reserved.

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