Library Story Time for Simchat Torah

We’re in the final stretch of High Holy Days — Hoshana Raba, Shemini Atzeret, then Simchat Torah — the last of which was my focus on Wed. when I read to the lower elementary.

I started with tried and true SAMMY SPIDER’S FIRST SIMCHAT TORAH by Sylvia Rouss. It’s all there — the autumn leaves, the candy apples, the flags, the parades, the singing and dancing with the Torah.

The main message? Just as with our favorite storybook that we read over and over, getting new things out of it each time, so we begin the Torah anew each year, understanding it better as we grow and learn.

I took a slightly different tack with our 2nd book — EZRA’S BIG SHABBAT QUESTION by Aviva Brown. Simchat Torah is, indeed, about the Torah, so why not discuss what is actually IN the Torah — laws and mizvot?

Ezra has a big question is whether we are allowed to tie a knot on Shabbat. Shabbat prohibitions are treated broadly in the Torah — do not work at your occupations — but that was insufficient for the Rabbis of the Talmud. What if you accidentally did something that was prohibited? Big trouble, right? So the Rabbis teased out the detail that surely was there all along, using work definitions involved in constructing the Mishkan Ba-Midbar (the portable sanctuary in the wilderness) as a guide. Learn more here: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/…/shabbats-work…/

As an aside, I would like to mention that one of the attractions of EZRA’S BIG SHABBAT QUESTION is that it depicts a Jewish family of color, an important new trend in Jewish book publishing. I chose not to point this out to the kids; I wanted them to simply absorb and internalize the wonderful diversity in the Jewish world!

MOADIM L’SIMCHA!

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