YUSSEL'S PRAYER: A Yom Kippur Story by Barbara--Adapt Cohen

YUSSEL'S PRAYER: A Yom Kippur Story

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The author of The Binding of Isaac and I Am Joseph here retells a story with a shtetl setting--of haughty Reb Meir and the scorned orphan boy, Yussel, who on Yom Kippur teaches him the meaning of true reverence. It's somewhat outside a child's sphere of interest as set up--after denying Yussel's plea to go to shul too, Reb Meir and his eldest son spend the long day merely mouthing the prayers and thinking their own selfish thoughts: Reb Meir, how he can buy grain cheap and sell dear; his son, how to get away from the dull little town ""whether my father likes it or not"" and go to Warsaw. And the telling is plain heavy-handed (in shul, we're informed at the outset, the villagers will spend the day ""fasting, beating their breasts, and asking God to forgive their sins""). So there is no sense of awe or holiness to underpin the conclusion. . . when the rabbi delays bringing the service to an end until he has a vision of ""a simple melody played on a reed pipe""--Yussel, out tending the cows-- ""Because. . . whoever sent that melody to God sent in with his whole heart. It was a true prayer."" The brown-toned illustrations are stiff, too, and somber without any projected feeling.

Pub Date: Aug. 11th, 1981
Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard