In the Library – בַּסִּפְרִיָּה

In the Library – Ba-sifriah

So often High Holy Days begin soon after the start of religious school, leaving little time to explore themes of loving kindness (g’milut chasadim), atonement (kippur), and forgiveness (sol’chanut). Not this year — we have been blessed with the entire month of Elul for soul searching, to learn not only about what we did wrong, but about what we can do right.

For the Kindergarteners, I found a sweet, gentle story called A Hat For Mrs. Goldman by Michelle Edwards about a little girl who wants to give a special gift to her selfless neighbor, using the knitting skills she had taught her. The kids learned that it is a mitzvah to give and to be kind to others.

Without knowing it, I chose the perfect book for the 1st/2nd graders, called Babushka’s Doll by the famous Michigan children’s author Patricia Palacco. They sat enraptured hearing about self-absorbed, whiny Natasha and her babushka’s (grandmother’s) doll that was something more than a regular doll. Let’s just say Natasha (and the kids) soon learned the importance of patience, consideration, and respect for others — important mitzvot to apply the whole year round.

Finally, for the 3rd/4th graders, I was inspired by this past Saturday’s parsha, Ki Tetzeh, from the final book of the Torah, Devarim (Deuteronomy). This parsha contains a record 74 of the Torah’s 613 mitzvot, many devoted to human dignity, justice, and kindness to the helpless. We discussed just a few mitzvot, with the kids coming up with great insights. 

Then I read a small part of the chapter book Lola Levine is Not Mean by Monica Brown, in which Lola learns, not only how to make amends for specific hurts, but how to be a nicer person in general.

Rachel Haus, Librarian

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