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THE SHEMA IN THE MEZUZAH by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso


Listening to Each Other

by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso ; illustrated by Joani Keller Rothenberg

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-58023-506-8
Publisher: Jewish Lights

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)