Holidays are full of wonderful traditions – food, decorations, gatherings and stories. Adding a special shared book to the festivities is a wonderful way to add another layer of joy (and family time). With Passover on the way, take a look at these lovely stories that shed light on the Jewish experience around the world.
“A Persian Passover” by Etan Basseri, illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh. (Ages 4 through 8. Kalaniot Books. $ 19.99.)
Big brother Ezra and sister Roza are all about speed, racing through the streets of their village in 1950s Iran – especially as they prepare for Passover. There are errands to be run, matzoh to be baked in a shared oven, and a special Seder to be prepared.
When the siblings’ speed leads to a dinner disaster, a kind neighbor steps in – and the young people take to heart the ethics of love and welcome, as well as the reminder that “it’s good to be fast … but it’s also important to be careful. ”
This snapshot of the lives of Iran’s Jewish community offers a look back, and a tribute to the traditions that have lived on for thousands of years.
“Passover, Here I Come” by DJ Steinberg, illustrated by Emanuel Wiemans. (Ages 3 and up. Grosset & Dunlap. $ 5.99.)
The sweet and silly poems of “Passover, Here I Come” – part of a series of holiday books – offer a loving introduction to everything from Seder traditions to the mystery of gefilte fish: “And there’s no way to explain / why grown-ups think that it’s delish. ”
The book begins with a pre-holiday cleanup and ends with a feast on donuts and bagels and waffles after Passover ends.
“The Melody” by Oded Burla, illustrated by Assaf Benharroch; translated by Ilana Kurshan. (Ages 4 through 8. Kalaniot Books. $ 19.99.)
This gentle story of a melody searching for “someone who would listen” takes a poetic trip through Creation. The mountains will not listen, the trees have their own song, and the river is rushing by too fast.
Finally the melody finds its home when a mother, sitting with her baby, opens her ears to hear it – and shares it with her child as a lullaby. Lovely on its own, the story brings a deeper meaning: a reference to the Torah, shared from parent to child, a song given to each new generation.
“Tia Fortuna’s New Home: A Jewish Cuban Journey” by Ruth Behar, illustrated by Devon Holzwarth. (Ages 4 through 8. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers. $ 17.99.)
Tia Fortuna’s family has followed a long, complicated path, from Spain to Turkey to Cuba to Miami, carrying recipes, stories and traditions along the way.
“We come from people who found hope wherever they went,” she tells her granddaughter as they spend one last special day together at her cozy home at the Seaway before she moves to a new place.
As she packs a suitcase of mementos and the salt-crusted mezuzah, Estrella learns more about her family’s history, and the heritage they carry wherever they go.
Caroline Luzzatto teaches fourth grade at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy. Reach here at [email protected].