Shana Tova means Happy New Year! in Hebrew. Today is a New Year day for millions of Jews around the world. I was born in a very secular family, but now my parents are more mindful of the faith of their ancestors, and they asked me to give Anna an overview of Jewish fall holidays, so she can celebrate with them as she visits them for the next two weeks. Luckily, I found an excellent book in the library – On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It’s told by a little girl who describes events in her house. She also explains when Rosh Hashanah is celebrated and what it signifies. According to Jewish tradition, it’s the day of creating the world even though I am not clear whether it’s the first day of creation or the last, because, as I recall from the Bible, Creation took more than a day. Anyway, in the book Rosh Hashanah is called a birthday of the world and then the narrator describes what they do on this day and on Yom Kippur – the holiest day of the year for Jews. In the end of the book the girl who tells the story makes a special Rosh Hashanah card wishing Happy Birthday to the world. We decided to make a Rosh Hashanah card for grandparents instead. Anna was too excited about her upcoming flight to really focus on the project, and she completed the card in about 10 minutes, but at least she tried:
By the way, I admired the author for making these important holidays so understandable to children who don’t share the same faith. I am yet to stumble on a single Christian book that would explain Christmas or Easter on a level appropriate for young children without trying to “recruit” readers into Christianity.
Anna was intrigued as to why her grandparents celebrate this holiday if they don’t even live in Israel and came to America from Belarus. I explained to her that dedushka’s ancestors came to Belarus from Israel long-long time ago, same way more or less as her own parents came to America. My mother has a split Russian-Jewish heritage, and I decided not to complicate matters even further. This was enough for a three year old, and she wanted to know if they are going to eat sweet things like children in the book. I am pretty sure they will, and she had a “special snack” of apples and honey – traditional Rosh Hashanah foods. Shana Tova, parents! Shana Tova, my Jewish friends, and Happy Birthday, World!
For more story stretchers visit StArt hosted by A Mommy’s Adventures and Kids Get Crafty hosted by Red Ted’s Art.