If I Had a Hammer: Ahavaat Shalom Bein Adam Lachaveiro/Making Peace Among People

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.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2012 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from publishers as review copies, my personal collection and my local public library.
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