Posts Tagged ‘forwords Catalog of Jewish Books’

Why is this night different?

Passover is a mere seven days away. As I was thinking about what to write about, I discovered that both Jennifer Shultz at the kiddosphere and Tricia at Miss Rumphius Effect have both blogged about Passover books and have done a fine job. I encourage you to visit their sites for more information.

I do, however, want to tell you about the newest Passover book I received.

The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman. Illustrated by Paul Meisel. © 2010, Holiday House. Ages 4-8. A charming retelling of the classic Little Red Hen story. In this version, Ms. Hen needs to make her matzah for the Seder. She seeks help from her barnyard friends for the planting, harvesting, milling and making of the matzah. Of course, no one has the energy or enthusiasm to assist. However, when it is time for the Seder, everyone needs a place at the table. Can Ms. Hen refuse? Of course not! The illustrations are terrific, bright, colorful and bold, and the use of Yiddish is fun and appropriate throughout this delightful story.

I am happy to be able to remind you that you can now go to my catalog for an annotated list of Passover titles that are currently available. There are quite a number and there is still time to get them before the Holiday.

What more to tell you about, then? How about the ever-evolving process of creating my family’s Haggadah every year, including what I use for inspiration – which is of course, Passover themed books and other Haggadot.

I will start by saying as I did in an earlier blog, that I put all of my “Christmas” energy into Passover. When my children (now 22 and 25 years old) were small, we used the Kar-Ben My Very Own Haggadah, which is still in print and available – only now with a color cover. As I began to take on more Passover responsibilities – more guests, more food preparation, etc. – I needed more information.  I obtained a copy of the Art of Jewish Living Series: Passover, now titled Passover, 2nd edition: The Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration by Dr. Ron Wolfson with Joel Lurie Grishaver. Dr. Wolfson’s view of the Passover Seder as a “drama in four acts,” each act with four scenes and a curtain, was extremely helpful in enabling me to see what was happening during the various Seders I attended and what needed to happen during our Seder.

I also learned from Dr. Wolfson that there were 14 steps to cover during the Seder. Another revelation!  Four Acts – Four Scenes – 14 Steps – This truly was Order! These Seders were not different at all! They were ALL EXACTLY THE SAME just the words were different.  This information has been the foundation on which I have built my family Haggadot over the years. I return to The Art of Jewish Living: Passover every year to make sure I am “sticking to the plan.

Of course, in children’s Haggadot, some “Scenes” may be shortened. Do 2-6 year olds really need to hear about the B’nei B’rak Rabbis?  Do we need to study Torah text with children or can we find more creative, perhaps more dramatic, ways to relate the story of our people’s deliverance from slavery. While wildly popular now, we began tossing plagues around during our Seders in 1988 when my son was 4 years old. I have often wondered if Oriental Trading Company understands the spike in its frog, farm animal and wild beast toy sales during the March-April period.

Over the years, I have collected Haggadot in order to glean from them new ideas to add to our family’s Haggadah. Every year, I would focus on adding or enriching some Act, Scene or Step. Then, a few years ago, I found this incredible website, It contains everything I had been looking for to put together my own Haggadah – Hebrew, transliterations, English translations, plus more. Readings, poems, essays, recipes and the most amazing collection of songs I have ever seen.

We now cover all 14 Steps and all Four Acts of the Passover Seder. I will not guarantee that every Scene is present and accounted for. Our Passover Seder table always includes a wide range of ages and faiths. (I think they come for the frogs.) Whatever their reason, we are happy they join us. I want to make sure their experience is warm and welcoming, they feel free to ask questions and are engaged with what is happening.

Now, in addition to our Haggadah, thanks to that fabulous website, we also have a Passover songbook containing songs we have grown to love singing over the years and many that parody popular tunes with Passover related verses. Once we finish our Seder, we often sing into the night.  After all, we have been sure to drink those four cups of wine, so why not sing our favorite tunes. It is far better than karaoke.

At the beginning of our Haggadah, we state (adapted I am sure from somewhere):

“The purpose of this evening is to arouse the attention and curiosity of all who sit at our table… We want them to ask us “Ma Nishtanah? What is going on here? What in the world are you doing? And why?”

If at the end of the evening, we have accomplished that, what more could we ask? Isn’t that what a Seder is all about?

I wish you all a happy and wondrous Passover.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by the publishers cited or are from my personal collection.
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The forwordsbooks Catalog of Books-March 2010 Edition

When I decided to re-start forwordsbooks back in September, 2009, my intention was that I could easily have a revised catalog up and online within a month, maybe two.  Clearly, I was delusional. Most definitely I had completely lost track of how much the world of Jewish children’s publishing has changed during the past 10 years.

By the end of December, I was thinking, “Oh well, it won’t be the 2009 Catalog of Books.” In January it was “I will never finish this.”  However, in February, as I began to see some light shining at the end of this very long tunnel, I knew that I would find a stopping point. Not an end point mind you, a stopping point, because even as I  write this there is a pile of books sitting on the floor of my office that I need to read and review, publishers are printing and sending out new books for consideration, editors are preparing new materials for production and authors and illustrators are working at their craft to bring us their latest creative ideas.

I look forward to reading, reviewing and bringing them all to you in updates and new editions to the forwordsbooks Catalog of Books. I can assure you, it will not be ten years and six months before you hear from me again.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

Getting Down to It

I have posted five comments today! One goal achieved! You are going to ask me where, right? OK, my five comments today were left at:

MotherReader - where I signed up for the 2010 Comment Challenge and thanked her for the opportunity.

Lee Wind – where I thanked Lee for partnering with MotherReader on the Comment Challenge and giving us the opportunity to meet new people.

Maw Books Blog – where I signed up for the Boggiest and thanked her for the opportunity.

There’s a Book – where I got involved in a Bloggiesta mini-challenge and learned about creating a cheat sheet for my blog and thanked him for the template.

The Book Lady’s Blog – where I got involved in another Bloggiesta mini-challenge to think about my goals for my blog in 2010 and commented about how I  am already completely overwhelmed.

I am happy it is Friday night and Shabbat will allow me to relax just a bit. But before I light the candles, here are a couple goals for 2010:

  1. Finish the forwords Catalog of Jewish Books and get it up on the website and let the Jewish community know it is there and updated in the next two weeks.
  2. Target a Jewish Value each month and find secular books that support it. Feature those books and write a blog about the value and how the books support it.
  3. Work on my Amazon affiliate program and see if I might generate a bit of income through book sales.
  4. Attend the 2010 kidlitosphere Conference. Meet some the incredible people writing these amazing blogs.

I am sure there will be more,  I haven’t even touched the social networking stuff yet. But let’s leave it here for now.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.