Posts Tagged ‘Rosh Hashanah’

Teach us to count our days, that we shall acquire a heart of wisdom (Ps. 90:12) – Z’man/Time

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.

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There is no television in our home.

When either I or my husband shares that fact with friends or coworkers, we usually get an amazed stare followed by, “What do you do in the evening?” If we can stop from laughing, we try to explain that there is plenty to keep us occupied…we read, we take walks, we TALK to each other. Following that information, there is a lot of head shaking, perplexed looks and mumbled, “I could never give up TV.”

In 2006, both my husband and I had major health scares. In 2011, my mother passed away. If I learned anything from these experiences (and many others), it is that time is too short to be spent on useless tasks. We both found that sitting in a room with a television on, while admittedly engaging, was ultimately uninspiring and possibly damaging to our brains. We got rid of the televisions and never looked back.

Time is a precious commodity.

Judaism has always recognized this. It is obvious in the way we honor the dead – the rituals of burial, shiva (7 days after death), shloshim (1 month after death) and yahrzeit (1 year after death).  It is there in the holiday cycle from Rosh Hashanah through Tisha B’Av, tied as they are to the waxing and waning of the moon, the planting and harvesting of the fields.  Even the 19-year cycle that adds a leap month periodically to keep everything roughly in sync recognizes that the cycles and rhythms of time are important.

Time is a Jewish value we too easily take for granted as we rush through our busy days and weeks, yet we have been given a weekly “oasis” and several annual “island refuges” to rest and renew ourselves.  Understanding time’s flow over the Jewish year, knowing that Friday nights are going to be fun and restful, the start of a New Jewish Year will be celebrated with apples and sweet honey, Yom Kippur is for introspection, Sukkot will enable us to eat outdoors with welcome guests, all make for an interesting and engaging calendar. All these are opportunities to watch time move – so quickly – hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year…

Here are some books to give you a variety of different perspectives of time:

SS1BkJewHolSammy Spider’s FIRST book of Jewish Holidays. by Sylvia A. Rouss, illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn. © 2013, KarBen Publishing. Ages 2-5.  As Sammy Spider celebrates 20 years in publication, he introduces his youngest readers to the cycle of the Jewish year using the Jewish holidays. In this colorful board book, each holiday is brightly illustrated with a very short message about its theme. Perfect for small little hands.


All in a Day. By Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Nikki McClure. © 2009, Abrams Books for Young Readers. Ages 3-8. What will you do today? Each day is filled with possibility and will never come again. Using a lovely rhyming text and striking paper cut art, this simple book takes us on an adventure filled with opportunities that even the youngest reader will embrace.

SchmutzyFamThe Schmutzy Family. by Madelyn Rosenberg, illustrated by Paul Meisel. © 2012, Holiday House. Ages 4-9. From Sunday through Friday, Mr. and Mrs. Scmutzy encourage their children to explore the world around them in as physical a manner as possible. Dirt, paint, tomato sauce, frogs and cheese are fine in this “anything goes for the sake of education” household. However, when Friday afternoon comes, the entire family participates in cleaning the house and themselves, setting the table for guests and making sure everything and everyone is ready to welcome Shabbat. An extreme story matched by hilarious illustrations will have everyone roaring – and wishing their parents were so liberal!


The Keeping Quilt: 25th Anniversary Edition. Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco. © 1998, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Ages 5-10. Based on the true story of the author’s quilt, we read as a family heirloom is created and used for innumerable life events, becoming part of a family’s tradition over time and even into today. Exquisite pictures and heartwarming text make this one of my all-time favorite books.

HomeBakerHome. Written and illustrated by Jeannie Baker. © 2004, Greenwillow Books. Ages 5-10. Watch through a window as a family moves into a neighborhood, as a child grows into a woman, as a city grows into a neighborhood. This wordless picture book uses collage art to deliver a powerful message about the time it takes for children to grow into adults and for cities to become communities.


To Everything There is a Season: Verses from Ecclesiastes. Written and illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon. © 1998, The Blue Sky Press. Ages 5-10. While the biblical verses in this book are timeless, the artists have chosen to illustrate each couplet in an artistic style from diverse cultures around the world and from prehistoric times through today. The effect serves to validate the ageless nature of the text and the unity of all the earth’s inhabitants.

As always, Rosh Hashanah is on 1 Tishrei and Yom Kippur is on 10 Tishrei beginning the year 5774 since the creation of the world. In the year 2013 of the Common Era, Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown Wednesday, September 4.  Those of us living on both the Jewish and Gregorian calendars are experiencing a few heart palpitations as we realize that we have to prepare for the beginning of school AND the High Holidays at virtually the same time. In a couple of months, we will be equally shocked when we are frying latkes on Thanksgiving as the first day of Hanukkah begins on Wednesday evening, November 27/25 Kislev (a once in a Millennium event, I’m told.)

Happy Reading!

Kathy B.


Book Review | Gershon’s Monster
by Eric A. Kimmel

Score: 5

Illustrated by John J. Muth © 2000, Scholastic, Inc. For the most part, we try to be on our best behavior throughout the year. We remember to say please and thank you. We speak kindly of and to others. We tell the truth. Of course, everyone makes an occasional mistake, and when we do we [...]

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Apples Dipped in Honey for Rosh Hashanah

In one week, we will be celebrating the beginning of a new Jewish year. For many years,  my family has welcomed in the New Year using the “Home Service for Rosh Hashanah”  found in All About Rosh Hashanah by Judyth Groner and Madeline Wikler, Illustrated by Bonnie Gordon Lucas. ©1997 Kar-Ben Publishing. We light the candles, say the blessing over the wine, bless the round challah and then dip a slice of apple into honey and say the blessing for a sweet New Year. After all that, we begin our holiday meal.

As I think about preparing for this tradition, however, I am reminded that bees are in trouble all over the world.  What if there was no honey for us to dip our apples in? Several new books have been published recently to warn of the bees’ plight and seek everyone’s help in looking out for them.

What’s the Buzz? Honey for a Sweet New Year by Allison Ofanansky. Photographs by Eliyahu Alpern. ©2011. Kar-Ben Publishing. Ages 4-9.  In this companion book to Harvest of Light and Sukkot Treasure Hunt, the author and photographer take us on a visit to the Dvorat Havator Bee Farm and Education Center in Israel to learn how bees collect pollen to make honey and to see how it is processed into the food we eat.

The Buzz on Bees: Why Are They Disappearing? by Shelley Rotner & Anne Woodhull. Photographs by Shelley Rotner.  ©2010. Ages 6-10. Holiday House, Inc. In 2006, Dave Hackenburg, a professional beekeeper noticed that all of his hundreds of hives were empty. The bees were not dead, they had disappeared.  This fascinating book explains why the vanishing of bees would be a terrible thing for the world. Bees do more than simply produce honey, they pollinate “one out of every three mouthfuls of food we eat.” That makes bees a pretty important insect.

The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns. Photographs by Ellen Harasimowicz. ©2010. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.  Ages 8-12. This captivating book, part of the Scientists in the Field Series, delves deeply into the disappearance of bees around the world and the scientific search into the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). You will be reintroduced to Dave Hackenburg, the professional beekeeper who first discovered this frightening problem and to the beekeepers, farmers, scientists and the many others who are pursuing the various leads to the potential causes of the problem.

Honey: A Gift from Nature by Yumiko Fujiwara. Illustrated by Hideko Ise. ©2006. Kane/Miller Book Publishers, Inc.  Ages 3-6. This book, for the very young, looks at bees and how they make the honey we love so much. The language is simple and direct. The illustrations are beautiful and take on the colors of each season being discussed – the greens of spring, the warm yellows of summer, the autumn golds and reds, the greys of winter.  Because it was published before its discovery, this book does not go into the bee problem.  Nevertheless, for the very young, this is a perfect introduction to the wonders of how honey is made.

And with all of this honey, we should have some apples to dip it in, right?

One Red Apple by Harriet Ziefert. Illustrated by Karla Gudeon.  ©2009. Blue Apple Books.  Ages 3-8.  Using simple language, this charming book takes us on a journey from picking apples to eating, to leaving some apples for the birds. Seeds fall, a tree grows – with a pull out page – and the cycle begins again. Karla Gudeon’s paintings are bright, bold, colorful and attractive.  Pair this book with What’s the Buzz? Honey for a Sweet New Year or Honey: a Gift from Nature and you will have a lovely read-aloud time with your family for the New Year.

Wishing you and yours a sweet, healthy and book-filled New Year.  L’Shanah Tovah Tikatevu – May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from my own collection, my local public library or the publisher as a review copy.
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.

Talia and the Rude Vegetables

illustrated by Francesca Assirelli

© 2011, Kar-Ben Publishing.

Talia’s grandmother is making her family a stew to welcome in the New Year. She has asked Talia to go to the garden and “bring back seven root vegetables.” But Talia hears “rude” instead of “root” and wonders, how she will know if a vegetable has been rude?

As Talia digs up the vegetables – onions, garlic, carrots, turnips, potatoes, parsnips and rutabagas (is your mouth watering yet?) – she remembers times when her behavior has perhaps not been at its best and knows this is the time of year she needs to make some apologies to her family members. When Talia unearths a an “onery onion,” she puts that one in the pot, sending the perfectly round onion to the basket. She does the same for the “garish garlic,” “crooked carrot,” “terrible turnip,” well, you get the message. All the “rude” vegetables go to the pot for her family’s stew. The nice, perfect vegetables go in the basket, which Talia delivers to the rabbi to give to a family who may need it.

Talia’s mistake turns out fine in the end, for a vegetable is a vegetable after all. “Very sweet like you,” says her grandmother, because Talia had done a mitzvah by giving the extra basket of vegetables to the rabbi.

This is a charming book for younger children to convey the message of apologizing for our behavior (Teshuvah) at this solemn time of year. It also speaks about Tzedakah in a fun and interesting way.

The illustrations are soft, warm and lovely, while perfectly conveying the efforts Talia must exert to find the vegetables. There is a recipe for “Rude” Vegetable Stew in the back of the book that sounds delicious and may be a featured item on my family table this year

Grade Level: Pre-K – 2nd

Ages: 3-8

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and 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 appreciate your support.

Book Review | Tashlich at Turtle Rock
by Susan Schnur & Anna Schnur-Fishman

Score: 3

Illustrated by Alex Steele-Morgan © 2010, Kar-Ben Publishing Families looking for a way to bring interesting Jewish ritual into their lives need look no further than this charming book. Annie and her family go on a hike as part of their Rosh Hashanah afternoon. During their hike, they make four stops. One to remember something [...]

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