"A beautiful introduction to the commonality and diversity of the Jewish people. The different stories add up to one very special Shabbat."
Emily Sper, author, The Kids' Fun Book of Jewish Time
"By the time we have circumnavigated the world with Bernhard, not only have we learned about the rich depth and variety of Sabbath observance, we understand also about the ubiquity of Jews and the love that continues to nurture and hold them together."
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author, Because Nothing Looks Like God ; coauthor, In God's Hands
"A delightful journey to Jewish homes around the world as they celebrate Shabbat with joy and meaning. Beautiful illustrations teach the diversity of the Jewish people as they gather for the holiday. You and your children will love this book! Highly recommended."
Dr. Ron Wolfson, author, Shabbat: The Family Guide to Preparing for and Celebrating the Sabbath ; copresident, Synagogue 3000
“In a world that is often in a hurry, Durga Yael Bernhard gives us a glimpse of a world that has learned to stop, to catch its breath and celebrate Shabbat. Beautiful illustrations invite the reader to travel around the globe, to sit with their brothers and sisters and taste the magic spice of Sabbath rest.”
Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, author, God's Paintbrush and In God’s Name
ChallahCrumbs: Tell us a bit about your book.
Durga Yael Bernhard: AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE SHABBAT (Jewish Lights, 2011) follows the cycle of one Sabbath, beginning with preparation on Friday morning through Havdalah (candle lighting to end Shabbat) at sundown the following day. Each activity of the Sabbath is portrayed through the eyes of a child in a different country, beginning and ending in Israel. I chose to represent countries with large Jewish populations (France, the USA, Argentina) as well as places where the Jewish population is quite small (Ethiopia, India, Thailand) . . . thus we get a feel for the global shape of Judaism today.
CC What inspired you to write this book?
DYB: The idea that on every Shabbat, people all over the world are doing the same things. We are all lighting candles, reading the same weekly Torah portion, singing the same blessings and songs, and living the same traditions. Yet these similarities are taking place within very diverse contexts. Shabbat customs reflect the cultures in which they take place, and they evolve with time.
I also want this book to introduce the Sabbath itself; to describe in pictures and words the meaning of Shabbat; how it works; and why it's important for us today. We are peeking into the lives of families (and there are many real people portrayed throughout the book). Bit by bit, we gain a sense of what this ancient tradition is all about. The wisdom woven into the Sabbath has endured for over three millennia, and it is not just for Jewish people or Christians and Muslims who observe their own holy day too. The Sabbath is universally human, and undergirds much that is good in our society. The world needs us to take a break from our weekly grind; to stop producing and replenish our souls; to celebrate Creation and our place in it. Shabbat is life-affirming, and supports healthy family living. It is nurturing to children. It reduces stress and speaks to the need for shifting values in our age of advanced technology. It brings people together in a balanced cycle of time. I want all children to know about this!
CC: Congratulations! We understand your book won the Sydney Taylor Honor Award. Tell us a bit about that experience.
DYB: It was totally unexpected. The phone rang on an ordinary weeknight, and a friendly voice announced a lovely surprise. I'll never forget that. I am proud to receive the Sydney Taylor Honor Award because it endorses my book as a teaching tool and an authentic representation of Jewish life. The awards are not officially announced until June; after that I will have shiny silver stickers to put on my book!
CC: How did you get started as a writer?
DYB: I began first as a fine artist and then an illustrator. I always had a special place in my heart for children's books, and it wasn't long before my work went in that direction. The first books I wrote – What's Maggie Up To? (Holiday House, 1992) and Alphabeasts (Holiday House, 1993) – were visually-driven and required little text. I had always enjoyed writing, and decided to do it myself. Likewise, my concept books – such as To & Fro, Fast & Slow (Walker Books, 2000) or In the Fiddle Is a Song (Chronicle Books, 2006) – contain only a few words per page. Around the World in One Shabbat is the first book I've written that has substantial text. It is modeled after other multicultural books that I've illustrated, including A Ride on Mother's Back (Gulliver Books 1997, written by Emery Bernhard) and Happy New Year (Dutton Books, written by Emery Bernhard). I enjoy writing, and would like to pursue it further. Some of my ideas for books are even moving in the direction of young adult novels.
CC: What are some of your favorite children's books?
DYB: I could fill a whole blog with that list. Here are half a dozen of my favorite titles: The Peddler’s Gift by Maxine Rose Schur and Kimberly Root; Castle on Hester Street by Linda Heller and Boris Kulikovn; Gershon’s Monster by Eric Kimmel and Jon Muth; Henry Hikes to Fitchberg by D.B. Johnson; The Hungry Clothes and Other Jewish Folktales by Peninnah Schram and Gianni De Conno; The Seventh Mandarin by Jane Yolen. All treasures.
CC: What book are you reading now?
DYB: Do people read one book at a time? Not me! Much of my work as an author/illustrator requires research. Having just completed teaching a residency in my daughter's elementary school that focused on local history, I recently finished reading The Mountains Looks Down, on the history of the Chichester furniture factory in Chichester, NY. For research on a future book, I am presently reading Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible. I'm reading a children's book version of The Magic Flute to my 9-year-old daughter. Two issues of The Jerusalem Report grace my kitchen table, and I am presently foster home to volume 15 (published in 1971) of the luscious Encyclopedia Judaica which has been loaned to me for several years. Individual volumes of this exquisite set make their way to my lap on a regular basis, usurping attention from all other books. And of course, there is the weekly Torah portion, and online commentary from two particular rabbis which I cannot resist.
CC: Do you have any special Shabbat traditions in your family?
DYB: There is a new tradition in my family – that of observing Shabbat at all. My parents both had a secular upbringing; likewise, my sister and I were raised as "cultural Jews"; I did not even know about the Sabbath as a child. It was as an artist and aspiring autodidact that I discovered my Jewish heritage as an adult. What began as commissions to illustrate the Bible quickly inspired my personal art, seeded my dreams, and led me to explore my roots. I'm the first woman in my family to become bat mitzvah (at the age of 50); and my daughter is the first child in my family to learn Hebrew in a century. Step by step, I'm bringing the Sabbath to life in my own home – alternately using my grandmother's candlesticks that sat untouched in her china cabinet for decades, and new candlesticks from Tel Aviv. That seems appropriate. Shabbat in my home will always be a blend of old and new – and is sure to keep evolving.
Around the World in One Shabbat: Jewish People Celebrate the Sabbath Together is a fabulous Sabbath adventure that begins in Jerusalem on a Friday morning with Avi, his sister Rachel, and his grandmother Savta as they choose the food for their Sabbath meal in the market, called the Machane Yehudah market. From there the young reader travels to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Alicia and her family are also busy preparing for the Sabbath, making a special loaf of bread. The traveler moves next to Melbourne, Australia where another Jewish child and family are preparing for Shabbat. The Sabbath odyssey continues until many different countries and cities are visited, on all the continents except Antarctica. In each new location, the family places special significance on the Shabbat, or holy day of rest and contemplation, a day to celebrate the goodness of life. Often the special Sabbath meal is prepared the day before, so no work need be done on the Shabbat. From Jerusalem to India, Jewish families everywhere make special preparations to celebrate the Shabbat. A glossary is provided at the end of Around the World in One Shabbat to remember all the special Hebrew and Yiddish terms that are encountered in the amazing journey. Inside the cover of Around the World in One Shabbat is a colorful world map with pinpointed locations for all the children who are visited as they prepare and celebrate their many Shabbats. The colorful illustrations help make the story of Around the World in One Shabbat even more immediate and exciting. Around the World in One Shabbat is written especially for children ages 3–6.
In warm words and glowing illustrations, this Sydney Taylor Award-winning book follows families on every continent as they prepare traditional foods, light candles, worship, and unplug from workday stress. An Argentine father puts away wallet and keys; Ethiopian farmers rest under a tree. Along with rich details of Jewish ritual, Phoenicia resident Bernhard celebrates the nondenominational joys of peace and quiet.
The subtitle of this picture book is "Jewish People Celebrate the Sabbath Together," and that is both its gist and its strength. Page by page, the reader experiences the weekly Shabbat rituals that remain constant and comprehensible around the globe, from Friday morning shopping through to Havdalah on Saturday evening. Each segment of the day takes place in a different location, with a total of 13 countries represented on six continents. Shabbat delicacies are purchased in Jerusalem's Machane Yehudah marketplace, challah is braided in Buenos Aires, candles are lit in Istanbul, a family attends synagogue in France, etc. However, it is important to mention that aside from the name of the locale and a few culinary references, most of the places visited in this book are textually indistinguishable from one another. In fact the text is both engaging and rather generic, focusing on what Jews share in their observance of the Sabbath while neglecting to highlight ways in which local culture influences the celebration. Pictorially the book is moderately more successful. Warmly hued gouache illustrations are pleasant and appealing, nicely portraying loving families eating together, praying together, and resting together. Yet once again several countries seem interchangeable, with visual representations that lack recognizable cues which might differentiate one country from another. (A map of the locations would have added interest to the narrative.) Thus one is left to wonder if the purpose of this book is to present a multinational, multicultural look at the celebration of Shabbat, or to demonstrate that no matter where Jews live, celebrating Shabbat is always the same. Whatever the intent, this book presents the Sabbath in a loving light, and that it does very well. For ages 5–9.
Jewish Book World Magazine
Around the World in One Shabbat: Jewish People Celebrate the Sabbath Together. Durga Yael Bernhard. Jewish Lights Publishing (www.JewishLights.com). 32 Pages. Hardcover. $18.99. ISBN: 978-1-58023-433-7. Winner of the "Honor Award" in the Children's Category for the Sydney Taylor Book Awards.
Take your child on a colorful adventure to share the many ways Jewish people celebrate Shabbat around the world.
Beginning in an old Jerusalem market Friday morning, shopping for foods to make Shabbat meals special. Setting a beautiful Sabbath table in Australia Friday afternoon. Lighting Shabbat candles with a family in Turkey. Singing
zemirot with relatives in Russia. Making hamotzi as a congregation in the United States. Parading the Torah scrolls at Shabbat morning services in a synagogue in Germany. Relaxing in the peace of Shabbat day in Canada. Enjoying a special Sabbath afternoon meal in Morocco.
From Israel to Thailand, from Ethiopia to Argentina, you and your children are invited to share the diverse Sabbath traditions that come alive in Jewish homes and synagogues around the world each weekand to celebrate life with Jewish people everywhere.
Durga Yael Bernhard has authored and illustrated many books for children, including multicultural books such as
Around the World in One Shabbat: Jewish People Celebrate the Sabbath Together; A Ride on Mother's Back, an American Bookseller Pick of the List; Happy New Year; and While You Are Sleeping. Her lift-the-flap book In the Fiddle Is a Song was a Child Magazine Best Book of the Year, and won the Please Touch Children's Museum of Philadelphia Award.
Jewish Media Review Website
This 33 page book, half of which are full-color delightful pictures, is designed for children aged 3–6. It shows how the Jewish Sabbath is observed by children and their parents in different countries and cultures. It starts in Jerusalem, Israel, on Friday morning, when Avi, his sister Rachel, and grandma, Savta, shop to enhance the Shabbat at the famous
Machane Yehuda Market for special foods for Shabbat. The story switches to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Alicia wakes from her nap and joins her sister and friends in making the Shabbat challah, put money in the tzedakah charity box for the poor, and help clean the house for the special guest, the Sabbath bride. Then, on the next page, in Melbourne, Australia, Aaron participates in preparing the meal and gives a neighbor a package of homemade cookies as a special gift for the Sabbath. Then, in Istanbul, Turkey, Leyla watches her parents perform acts they don't do the rest of the week. The story continues in St. Petersburg, Russia, the south of France, New England, and then Ethiopia where Avraham looks out at the land that stretches away north, toward Israel, where his brother and sister are serving in the Israeli army, where they like him will walk to the synagogue to share the blessings with fellow Jews. The story resumes in a big new synagogue on Germany, then Canada, Morocco, Thailand, and India. Then the sun sets in Jerusalem on Saturday night, the end of the Shabbat. Avi and Rachel walk home with their family from the Kotel, the ancient stone wall that surrounded the ancient Temple. The family recites the closing Havdalah service over the wine, and they look forward to next Friday when they can again celebrate the Shabbat, the special day, with all Jewish people around the world.
The Jewish Eye - Israel Drazin
Gr 1–3—On Friday morning, Avi and Rachel accompany their grandmother to the market in Jerusalem to purchase the ingredients for their Sabbath meal. In Buenos Aires, Alicia and her sister help to make challah. Leyla and David watch as their mother lights the Sabbath candles in Istanbul, and Isaac listens to his grandfather recite the blessing over the wine in St. Petersburg, Russia. Young girls in France and America, and a boy in Germany, celebrate Shabbat in the synagogue while children in Casablanca, Thailand, and India spend Saturday afternoon with their families. The book concludes with Avi and Rachel, saying good-bye to Shabbat through the havdalah ceremony. A full page of text in a small font narrates each family's experience and is accompanied by pleasant watercolors illustrating the rituals and the unique settings. The Shabbat blessings, in Hebrew and English, are integrated nicely into the text. While Tami Lehman-Wilzig's Passover Around the World (2007) and Hanukkah Around the World (2009, both Kar-Ben) are more comprehensive, Bernhard successfully provides an introduction to Shabbat rituals, prayers, and customs, and many vibrant Jewish communities.—Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL