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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Parsha Book Recommendation: The Shabbat Book

p.s.  If you have arrived at this post because you’re looking for decent parsha resoures, may I also (humbly) suggest that you take a look at a few of mine while you’re here…?  I write a Parsha Poem for kids each week, and I’m also writing a narrative summary/overview of each weekly parsha.

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I wasn’t sure about The Shabbat Book: A Weekly Guide For The Whole Familywhen we first got it out of the library.  Honestly, I thought it was some “light” Reform-style parsha thing.  Dunno; guess I shouldn’t judge a book by its fun clay-sculpture cover.

I am liking The Shabbat Book more and more as we read each parsha.  Eventually, we’ll have to return it, but I saw it in Israel’s for about $22 last week, so I may just have to buy it.  (they had a newer edition, with a slightly different cover, but the same inside)

For each weekly parsha, the book presents a VERY short, 1-2 paragraph summary, synopsis, or touches on a major theme (some of the parshiyos don’t have plots, as such).  There’s a clay-sculpture  illustration to match, and usually a sidebar with a Hebrew term, passuk or something similar to add depth. 

At the bottom of the page, there is a discussion of a middah (character trait), mitzvah, or similar idea in Jewish thought, related to the weekly parsha.

DSC08383What I like about this book:

  • Short, sweet, to the point discussions
  • Hebrew names used throughout for people and places
  • Presented on children’s level, easy to understand
  • Marvellous illustrations
  • Well-researched, with concepts drawn from pshat, midrash and elsewhere
  • Two-page spreads clearly indicate the start of a new chumash (book), along with the overriding theme of that book
  • Offers a section of zemiros at the back of the book

What I didn’t love:

  • Lacks depth, breadth or any elaboration on themes in the parsha (you’ll need another parsha book to cover the whole story)
  • Complete description of most parshiyos
  • Uses Sephardi, not Ashkenazi pronunciations (but that’s just my thing)
  • Doesn’t assume kids come from a home where Shabbat is observed

As far as I’m concerned, the advantages – especially the fact that this is a parsha book that pre-literate kids can pick up and “learn” on their own with pictures – far outweigh the disadvantages, and this is a book worth acquiring for any kid’s Jewish library if you can afford it (ie if WE can afford it).

Here’s a page view from Toldos, this week’s parsha.  Yaakov is “stealing” Eisav’s bracha:

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A couple more typical page views, with two parshiyos on a page:

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And a double spread for the start of chumash Devarim, illustrating the wanderings of bnei Yisrael:

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ISBN & copyright info follows if you want to find a copy for yourself.

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(ISBN 965-222-529-0)

2 comments:

Phyllis Sommer said...

it does sound good - make sure you check out amazon because there are used copies for only about $5 including shipping....

Jennifer in MamaLand said...

Thanks for the tip! I may do B&N because Amazon doesn't take paypal and B&N does... similar deals over there.