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The Shema in the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other
     

The Shema in the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other

by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, Joani Keller Rothenberg (Illustrator)
 

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In a divided world, where the one who shouts the loudest often gets the most attention, a story about compromise and listening.

"Standing UP!" "Lying DOWN!"

What were the people to do? They decided to ask the rabbi of the town. "What are we to do?" they asked. “Shall we put the mezuzah standing up or lying down?”

The townspeople

Overview

In a divided world, where the one who shouts the loudest often gets the most attention, a story about compromise and listening.

"Standing UP!" "Lying DOWN!"

What were the people to do? They decided to ask the rabbi of the town. "What are we to do?" they asked. “Shall we put the mezuzah standing up or lying down?”

The townspeople have mezuzahs but cannot agree on how to put them up on their doorways. Should they place them horizontally or vertically, standing up or lying down? To end their arguing, they consult the wise rabbi of the town, who advises them to carefully read the Shema in the mezuzah to find the answer. With this lively tale, based on a twelfth-century rabbinic debate, best-selling, award-winning children's author Sandy Eisenberg Sasso helps young people discover that there is often more than one solution to a problem, and that living together and creating “home” requires cooperation and listening to one another.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sasso, a rabbi and author (God’s Paintbrush), uses a 12th-century rabbinic tale to teach a simple point about listening and compromise. Two groups of people bring their argument to a rabbi, asking him whether the mezuzah, an artifact to hold a prayer scroll that is to be affixed to a house’s doorpost, should be attached horizontally or vertically. The rabbi settles the argument by listening to both sides, in keeping with the practice of listening that the Shema—the prayer in the mezuzah—counsels. Sasso’s tale characteristically harmonizes simplicity and Jewish tradition. Rothenberg’s rich blues and greens and broad strokes are zesty and Chagallesque. A lovely book; would that today’s shouters could take its wisdom to heart. Ages 3–6. (Aug. 23) n
Kirkus Reviews
An old story of compromise helps a little girl understand the reasoning behind the slanted placement of a doorpost mezuzah Annie knows it's important in Jewish homes to have a mezuzah in the doorway, with the words of the Shema prayer (the affirmation of Judaism) enclosed on special paper. When she asks why the mezuzah is hung in a leaning position rather than vertically or horizontally, her grandmother recounts the story of a village. Half the people think it right to post their mezuzah standing up, since the prayer is said when awakening, and the other half think it correct to post it lying down, to recognize its recitation at bedtime. A shouting match ensues, with one side stating "Standing up!" against the other's "Lying down!" Double-page spreads in deep hues created by acrylic, marker and crayon depict the fray. Equally alienated groups in increasingly agitated positions and with ever-wider mouths are shown above a progressively larger font, effectively evoking the conflict. The wise rabbi introduces a compromise by suggesting a slanted or leaning position. Grandmother reinforces the importance of conciliation, extending the principle of the Shema beyond this conflict: "We stop arguing. We stop yelling at each other. We listen. We are one. A thought-provoking and satisfying pourquoi tale plumbing an element of Jewish life many children may not have considered. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781580235068
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
08/23/2012
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
1,306,407
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 12.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
5 - 6 Years

Meet the Author

Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, a parent, spiritual leader and storyteller, is the award-winning author of God's Paintbrush, In God's Name, God In Between and many other inspiring books for children of all faiths and backgrounds. The second woman to be ordained as a rabbi (1974) and the first rabbi to become a mother, she and her husband, Dennis, were the first rabbinical couple to jointly lead a congregation—Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis. They have two children, David and Debora, and three grandchildren. Sasso, who holds a doctorate in ministry, is active in the interfaith community, and has written and lectured on the renewal of spirituality and the discovery of the religious imagination in children of all faiths.

Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Nurturing the Spiritual Imagination of Children
  • Tell Me a Story: Reading the Bible and the Religious Imagination of Children
  • Filling in the Blanks: How Women Read the Bible
  • Women and Judaism: A Personal Journey
  • Midrash as a Tool for Spiritual Reflection

Click here to contact the author.

Joani Keller Rothenberg is illustrator of Adam and Eve's First Sunset: God's New Day and other children’s books. She earned a master’s degree in art therapy from Leslie College and works extensively with children as an art therapist and as a muralist. She has four children and lives in Indianapolis.

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