New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story
By April Halprin Wayland; illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
Our world is indeed a small place and getting smaller by the day. Events that occur a world away affect us here at home. And our children are coming in contact via news availability, in our generation shown only on the 6 o’clock news, but now on iphones and ipads, putting the world and its conflicts at kids’ fingertips.
How can we insulate our children from this? We can’t. BUT, we can make them aware through reading of the multicultural world they will grow up in. They will meet children of differing faiths from their own and it is important at an early age to nurture a growing understanding and respect for these faiths and their accompanying traditions.
The picture book is a perfect place to start this journey as people of the Jewish faith begin the celebration of Rosh Hashanah the evening of Wednesday, September 24th. Enter “New Year at the Pier: A Rosh Hashanah Story.”
In my research for this particular blog, I came across some interesting information as regards the celebration. It is not merely the wishing of Happy New Year as we all do at the turning of the calendar page on December 31. It is the wishing of “L’shanah tovah” or “a good year.” And though happiness is part of the mix, the “good” that can be affected by one person towards another in the new year is the important factor. The “happiness” part is a by product of the doing of good. I like that a lot. In this “me” centered world, it’s an important reminder to our children that the accumulation of things is not at the heart of what makes us human, but our ability to give meaning to the lives we live. And part of that process is to admit our mistakes.
Author April Wayland Halprin has a particular way of observing Rosh Hashanah. Living near the sea, she tosses pieces of bread into the water with each piece representing a “regret” of something done in the year past. It is her way of “letting go” and starting the year freshly. It is the ceremony called Tashlich – naming the things we wish we hadn’t done and apologizing.
Her book opens with young Izzy and Marion writing on pieces of paper the things THEY are sorry for in the past year. While Izzy’s senses are filled with the change of the seasons and the parts he especially loves of Rosh Hashanah – the honey, apples and the sound of the shofar – he remembers the Tashlich ceremony as an equally important part of the celebration.
Kids can follow Rabbi Neil and his group of fellow penitents to the pier to toss their mistakes, symbolized by bread upon the waters.
But Izzy has one mistake he has trouble confronting. It is one he has doubts will be forgiven, as it involves the telling of a friend’s embarrassing secret. Will he be forgiven?
And Izzy has more than one person to ask for pardon as he has lost his mom’s ring, AND there’s that Mrs. Bickerson with her cohort of canines. You get the idea.
Stephane Jorisch”s soft pastel pictures of Izzy et al. make the ceremony of Tashlich a handsomely healing event for the reader.
May this be a truly “good year” for those of the Jewish faith – and for all of us.
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