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Story of Shabbat

Story of Shabbat

by Molly Cone, Emily Lisker (Illustrator)

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It is Friday evening, and the sun is about to set. If you are Jewish, you are probably getting ready to light candles, say blessings, and eat delicious food. What is the special occasion? It is the Sabbath, or the Day of Rest.

The bible tells how God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day God rested. This day was called the Sabbath.



It is Friday evening, and the sun is about to set. If you are Jewish, you are probably getting ready to light candles, say blessings, and eat delicious food. What is the special occasion? It is the Sabbath, or the Day of Rest.

The bible tells how God created the world in six days, and on the seventh day God rested. This day was called the Sabbath.

Molly Cone's clear, informative text and Emily Lisker's warm paintings present the cultural and historical origins of the Sabbath and the many meaningful traditions that are still practiced today. Instructions for making your own challah bread and challah cover round out this celebration of a very special day of thanks, rest, and renewal.

Author Biography:

Molly Cone is the author of more than forty books for children. Her Mishmash was selected in 1962 as one of the New York Times 100 Outstanding Books for Young Readers. Ms. Cone lives in Seattle, Washington, with her husband.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cone (Who Knows Ten?: Children's Tales of the Ten Commandments) updates her 1966 The Jewish Sabbath in a lively edition newly illustrated by Lisker (When the Beginning Began). Viewing Shabbat through a variety of lenses, the text ranges gracefully through history, ritual and folklore. Cone can be compelling and evocative: "A person thinks a little bigger on the Sabbath. A person stands a little taller on the Sabbath. A person is a person on the Sabbath." She admirably streamlines complex ideas. For example, she describes a poem about a prince turned into a dog by a witch's spell, except that he is restored to his human form every Sabbath. Then she adds: "The poem was not just a fairy tale, for Jews often felt persecuted in those days. Only on the Sabbath did those Jews feel like themselves again." Lisker's acrylics, rendered in dense, saturated colors and bold shapes, have an edginess that serves the book well when brought to bear on historical subjects, such as the Jews' Egyptian servitude, but the contemporary family scenes are problematic. Readers may appreciate her efforts to show diversity, as in a picture of what appears to be a Falasha family eating challah. Lisker's fans, however, may miss the folkish warmth and exuberance of her previous works: many of the modern celebrants here seem less reverent or uplifted than simply glum. Instructions for making challah and a challah cover conclude the volume. Ages 7-10. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
In poetic prose, Cone explains that a Jew's observance of the Fourth Commandment is a way of making freedom a permanent part of their lives. A person who works continually without rest is a slave. The narrative covers the Egyptian enslavement of the Jews, the giving of the Ten Commandments, and the observance of the Sabbath throughout history. In medieval Europe, the Jews ate dark bread all week long. Shabbat was honored with the white braided bread known as challah. Cone intertwines the history of Shabbat with Jewish folklore about Shabbat. A description of home observance is included. This lovely book is far richer than the many primers of Jewish religion available on the market. HarperCollins performed a service by re-issuing this text originally published in 1966 under the title, The Jewish Sabbath. Lisker's acrylic illustrations are deeply-hued and multi-culturally balanced. The pages are attractively laid out with horizontal column borders. Readers will come away from this book with an embodied understanding of the Jewish Sabbath. 2000 (orig. 1966), HarperCollins, Ages 6 to 10, $14.95. Reviewer: Jackie Hechtkopf—Children's Literature
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Originally published in 1966, this newly illustrated explanation of the Jewish observance of Shabbat retains an old-fashioned style that is awkward to modern readers. Though descriptions of the holiday and its traditions are well done, Cone's attempts to explain the emotions it invokes fall flat. She includes several briefly told folktales whose purposes are not always clear, and she uses words that children are unlikely to know, such as "fallow" and "barren," without giving definitions. In some places the text is repetitive to a fault ("-Sabbath-begins with candlelighting. With candlelighting and blessing. First the candlelighting, then the blessing-"), while in others it provides insufficient explanations. The bold, childlike acrylic illustrations imply a young audience, which the complexity of the language and concepts seem to belie. The pictures are also uneven: some work quite well, while others appear awkward and amateurish. Eyeglass lenses change from blue to pink to white, Egyptians look like circus strongmen, and perspective changes from page to page. Lisker provides a somewhat multicultural feel by portraying a black family at the Sabbath table. Despite the need for more children's books on this subject, most libraries will want to pass on this one.-Amy Lilien-Harper, Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This republication of a 1966 text with new illustrations explains the Jewish Sabbath. Giving context to today's Shabbat customs, Cone (Come Back, Salmon, 1992, etc.) recalls the story of Moses leading the Jews out of slavery and receiving the Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment, "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy," refers to keeping a day of rest. She describes the traditional customs of lighting candles, studying the Torah, and enjoying a festive family meal as ways of marking the day. Two stories that illustrate the feeling of the Sabbath, instructions for crafts, and a recipe for Challah, the traditional braided bread, complete the text. Lisker's (When the Beginning Began, 1999, etc.) acryliconcanvas, stylized illustrations are boldly colored and work best when depicting ancient times. Many of the modern families look strained and detached. People are frequently shown looking out of the corners of their eyes, which gives them a strange appearance. One black family is shown at their Shabbat table. They may be Ethiopian or American Black Jews, but the reader is given no hint of their background in the text. Since there are no other illustrations in which a darkskinned person appears, the reader is left to ponder why the illustrator chose to be inclusive here. None of the illustrations depict modern Jewish boys and men who do not cover their heads with skullcaps or the ultra orthodox who wear black and do not shave their beards or cut their forelocks. A lyrical, sensitive text is not served well by its new illustrations. (Nonfiction. 68)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1 ED
Age Range:
7 - 10 Years

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