Posts Tagged ‘Zachor’

Remember the Days…Zachor/Remembrance

Remember the days of old,

Consider the years of ages past;

Ask your father, he will inform you,

Your elders, they will tell you…

(Deuteronomy 32:7)

It is appropriate to focus on Zachor/Remembrance as the value for this month, since in and around the month of May/Iyar many new holidays were established to remember the Holocaust and the events leading to the founding of the state of Israel.

Jews are a remembering people. We love a Torah scroll written just as it has been written for thousands of years and read in exactly the same way in every synagogue on every Shabbat the world over. We place a stone on the gravesites of those we loved and revered, formerly to protect their place of rest, now as a statement of remembrance. The traditions, rituals and foods surrounding our holidays and life cycle events embed them deeply into our minds and those of our children.  Judaism uses every means at its disposal to embrace the mind, the body and all the senses to make sure we implant a concrete memory of whatever we are doing firmly into our souls.

This list of books speaks to the need to keep our important memories alive. Whichever title you or your children decide to read, you will capture a sense of the importance of zachor/remembrance.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge By Mem Fox. Illustrated  by Julie Vivas. © 1985. Kane/Miller Book Publishers. With the assistance of his family and friends and using items he collects from all around, Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partidge helps his friend Miss Nancy get her memory back. (Ages 4-8)

The Name Quilt By Phyllis Root. Illustrated by Margot Apple. © 2003. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  Sadie loves to hear the stories about all the people whose names are part of the name quilt on her grandmother’s bed, but one day the quilt is blown away in a terrible windstorm. How will they remember all those stories now? (Ages 4-8)

The Keeping Quilt Written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco. © 1998. Simon & Schuster Books. for Young Readers.  A beautiful quilt is passed down from one generation to the next as it is used for births and birthdays, weddings and deaths in a family.(Ages 4-8)

The Rag Coat Written and illustrated by Lauren Mills. © 1991.  Little, Brown and Company. A young Appalachian girl needs a coat in order to attend school. When the Quilting Mothers create a coat of clothing scraps, the school children laugh at her. Until she tells them the stories of each piece of cloth. (Ages 5-9)

Listen! By Stephanie S. Tolan. © 2006. HarperCollinsPublishers.  This summer, twelve-year-old Charley must recover from an accident but also from the loss of her mother. When a strange dog appears, Charley feels she must follow it, even into the woods that hold the memories of her mother she most wants to forget. (Ages9-12)

Eleven By Patricia Reilly Giff. © 2008.  Wendy Lamb Books. Sam has been having strange dreams of escaping from castles. Then he finds a box in his grandfather’s attic that makes him think he may have been kidnapped. Is any of this possible? Who can help him? (Ages 10-14)

The Giver By Lois Lowry. © 1993. Houghton Mifflin Company. Twelve-year-old Jonas receives his Lifetime Assignment fom the Elders. He is to become the receiver of memories. He will carry the memories of the entire community which he will receive from the Giver. (Ages 11-14)

I Am the Cheese By Robert Cormier. © 1977. Dell Laurel Leaf. Adam Farmer is trying to discover who he is and the more he dsicovers the more complex his life is becomig. (Ages 12-16)

Someone Named Eva By Joan M. Wolf.  © 2007. Clarion Books. After her town is destroyed by the Nazis, Eleven-year-old Milada is separated from her family, her name is changed to Eva and she is taken to a school where she is trained to be a perfect German. She is then adopted by a German family. Based on true events from WWII. (Ages 12-16)

Broken Memory By Elisabeth Combres. Translated by Shelley Tanaka. © 2007. Groundwood Press. A young Tutsi girl survives the brutal Rwandan genocides, then goes on to remember and heal from the pain of the experience. (Ages 14-18)

I have prepared a list of discussion questions and activities that parents and/or teachers can use when reading these books together with children to reinforce the value of zachor/remembrance and learn together about the need to keep family memories from being lost. If you would be interested in using this material, please see the Family Reading Program Section of my website for May/Iyar. May your memories of the month of May be filled with bright sunshine and spring flowers.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.

©2011 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review came from my own collection or 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.

Zachor/Remembrance: Remembering the Past Gives Power to the Present

April is a month filled with remembering. We entered it having just finished two Passover Seders recalling, perhaps in vivid detail, the Jewish people’s Exodus from Egypt and their transition from slavery to freedom.  On April 12, Yom HaShoah–Holocaust Remembrance Day, we remembered the loss of 6 million Jewish lives in World War II during memorial services around the world.

This weekend, we will be remembering the soldiers and civilians who have died in the struggle for Israel’s independence on April 18, Yom HaZikaron–Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day. Israel’s Memorial Day is followed closely by Yom Ha’atzmaut-Israel’s Independence Day on April 20, when we remember – and celebrate – the date, now 62 years ago, when Israel became an independent nation.

Why so much remembering, you might ask? The first time we see and read the word Zachor in Torah is in the story of Noah:

“God then remembered Noah and all the beasts that were with him in the ark, so God caused a wind to sweep over the earth, and the waters subsided. “ (Genesis 8:1) In Torah, when God remembers, God also acts. God goes on to create a reminder – a memorial if you will – the rainbow: “And when I cause clouds to form over the earth, and the bow appears in the cloud, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living things, all flesh, and never again shall waters become a flood, to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:14-15)

When we remember – The Exodus story, the Holocaust, fallen soldiers, victims of terror or Israel’s independence – what should our action be?  Is it enough simply to attend a Seder, a memorial service, a celebration or is more expected of us? In God’s case, there was more. God created the rainbow as a sign, a reminder to God not to flood the earth again, a memorial to those who perished in the floodwaters. If God requires actions, reminders and memorials, don’t we as well?

When a loved one dies, how should we remember that individual who once had a significant impact on our lives?  When something wonderful and significant happens in our life, how do we remember what took place?

There are some wonderful books that teach us how to move through life’s ups and downs and find creative ways to help our children remember the significant moments of life whether it is the death of someone important to them or a major milestone. These are a few of my favorite titles:

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco.  © 1988,  Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. Ages 5-9. Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award for Young Readers.  A babushka and a dress are the only items that come from Russia with Anna. When she outgrows both, her mother uses the cloth to make a quilt. The quilt is used as a Shabbat tablecloth, a picnic blanket where Anna got engaged,  the chuppa for Anna’s wedding and a baby blanket for her children. The quilt followed the family and was present at all the births, weddings and even at Anna’s death. The quilt is now waiting for the arrival of the author’s grandchildren, Anna’s great-great grandchildren.  A beautiful story about memories and memorials as carried forward in a family quilt.

The Memory String by Eve Bunting. Illustrated by Ted Rand. © 2000,  Clarion Books.  Ages 4-8.  Laura’s mother has passed down her memory string filled with buttons from the coats and dresses of generations of relatives in the family. Laura’s most special button is the little white one that was on her mother’s nightgown when she died three years ago. Her father has remarried and although Jane is nice enough, she isn’t Laura’s mother. To make sure she knows that, Laura pulls out her memory string a lot in front of Jane. When Laura’s cat breaks the memory string causing buttons to fly everywhere, everyone helps in the search, but one button remains lost. When Laura overhears Jane explaining to her father why that button is so important, she begins to think accepting Jane into her life may be a good idea after all.

The Milestones Project: Celebrating Childhood Around the World. Photography by Dr. Richard Steckel and Michele Steckel.  © 2004 Tricycle Press. All ages. Do you remember losing your first tooth? Getting your first haircut? What about your first pet? These are just a few of the milestones described in this wonderful book. In the words of kids themselves and from some of today’s most well known authors – Eric Carle, Cynthia Rylant and J.K. Rowling to name a very few – we read about the memories of major milestones and remember our own.

Monumental Verses by J. Patrick Lewis. © 2005 National Geographic Society. Ages 5-10. While I literally see God’s work in nature and all its grandeur, I find the creations of humankind to be amazing works of profound genius. More often than not, these buildings, statues and monuments created for some purpose, live on well past their intended function. They become icons, landmarks, historical treasures. Monuments to another time, we visit, stand in awe and take our pictures. Or maybe we write poems like these. Gorgeous photographs and beautiful poetry take you on an around the world trip to view some of the world’s most incredible sites with an entirely new perspective.

Talking Walls by Margy Burn Knight. Illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien.  © 1992, Tilbury House, Publishers. Ages 5-10. One of my favorite books describing a few places on earth where humankind has lived, worked, prayed or suffered and left messages for generations to come. The effect is that no matter the time or our gender, faith, language or culture, people the world over create monuments to remember the important events in their lives. What is happening right now, in your life that you want to remember?

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death By Laurene Krasny Brown. Illustrated by Marc Brown. © 1996, Little, Brown and Company. Ages 4-8. In simple, yet direct language this book helps explain to young children what it means to be alive and what it means to be dead,  how we may feel after someone we know dies, what various faiths and backgrounds do when saying goodbye and how different traditions talk about the afterlife. The most important section of the book, however, is “Ways to Remember Someone,” as it provides a number of excellent ideas for young people to memorialize the person they have lost and find ways to move on.

These books will give you some ideas for creating those actions, reminders and memorials to remember important people or significant events in your family’s life and enable you to find ways to share stories and feelings about what those people and times meant to you as you look back over time.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.


©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were from my personal collection or my local 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.

א וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-נֹחַ, וְאֵת כָּל-הַחַיָּה וְאֶת-כָּל-הַבְּהֵמָה, אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ בַּתֵּבָה; וַיַּעֲבֵר אֱלֹהִים רוּחַ עַל-הָאָרֶץ, וַיָּשֹׁכּוּ הַמָּיִם. 1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;

Book Review | Six Million PaperClips: The Making of a Children’s Holocaust Memorial
by Peter W. Schroeder and Dagmar Schroeder-Hildebrand

Score: 3

© 2004, Kar-Ben Publishing. “What on earth is 6 million?” ask the kids, when Whitwell Middle School in Whitwell, Tennessee decided to begin teaching their students about the Holocaust. Six million is a number too big to comprehend, so the class decides to collect six million paper clips in order to see just how big [...]

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Book Review | Hana’s Suitcase
by Karen Levine

Score: 4

Illustrated with Black and White photographs © 2003, Albert Whitman & Company. “Really, it’s a very ordinary-looking suitcase. A little tattered around the edges, but in good condition. It’s brown. It’s big… In white paint, across the front, there is a girl’s name: Hana Brady. A date of birth: May 16, 1931. And one other [...]

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Book Review | The Entertainer and the Dybbuk
by Sid Fleischman

Score: 5

© 2003, Greenwillow Books. Winner of the 2003 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers.  What have we here? A ghost story? An account of demonic possession? Yet another Holocaust story? Actually, it’s a fantastically written, highly engaging, out-of-the-ordinary Holocaust tale that kids, especially boys, will love, by Newbery Award winning author Sid Fleischman (z’l). [...]

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