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July 05, 2002 - Image 110

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-07-05

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The Spirituality of .lowish. Women

After the Holocaust

/Inward GreenfrM

Reform .4.1.,isr,

Of The

How a mythical
creature and
a new book can
help you prepare
for Yom Kippur.

AppleTree Editor

The Hardest Word- A Yom Kippur Story by Jacqueline
Jules, with illustrations by Katherine Janus Kahn.
(Kar-Ben Copies; 32 pages; $6.95; paperback)

This Yom Kippur tale's cover shows a large yellow bird
— with orange wings, bulging green eyes and purple
feathers atop his head — as he hastily runs over a
"What," you will ask yourself, "could this possibly
have to do with Yom Kippur?"
Open the pages and you will learn that this creature
is called the Ziz, and you will be even more confused.
"What," you will ask yourself, "could this possibly
The Ziz, writes author Jacqueline Jules, is a large
and fabulous creature that inhabited the world_ "a
long, long time ago."
The Ziz is well meaning, but often clumsy. He
spreads his large wings and blocks the sun so everyone
thinks the rain is coming. He fells a star and makes a
huge hole in the earth. He knocks down a tree and




destroys a vegetable garden.
The Ziz feels terrible, and he goes to speak with
"I want you to do something for me," God says. "I
want you to search the earth and bring back the hard-
est word."
So the Ziz goes on his hunt and discovers some very
difficult words, like "goodnight" (the Ziz learns this as
he watches a mother put her boy to sleep. He insists,
"But I'm not tired!") and "spaghetti" and "rhinoceros."
In the end, though, he understands that the hardest
word is something else. It is "sorry."
The Hardest Word is a truly charming storybook and
filled with fun, quirky art — just the sort of illustra-
tions children will love. Best of all, it manages to teach
a valuable lesson without being maudlin, without
once using those most ubiquitous of words in stories
purporting to teach ("special" and "share") and with-
out knocking anyone over the head with a so-deep
Yom Kippur is just over two months away. If you're
looking for a way to introduce your children to the
idea of asking for repentance, this is a great place to

After the Holocaust by Howard Greenfield.
(Greenwillow Books; 146 pages; $18.95)

Akiva Kohane was 16 years old when he was liberated
from Mauthausen.
After the Allied forces arrived, he recalls, no one was
celebrating: "I don't remember any special jumping for
joy or things like that.
"People were in such a situation that they really
couldn't care less. I mean, when I say that now it
sounds funny. But you know we were one-half dead,
so the only thing that I was happy about the night
that followed was that I didn't have to go back to the
barracks, that I could sleep outside."
Civia Basch was on herway to the new State of
Israel, where she would meet up with her only surviv-
ing family member, a brother. Then she learned that
he had died. Suffering one trouble after another, she
finally made her way to the United States. She was
determined, no matter what, to leave Germany.
"I made a ruckus," she said. "I wanted to get out of
this blood-soaked country."
This book is a moving collection of stories about
Jews after the Holocaust, where they went and why
and how, what they were thinking and feeling and the
dreams they had.
At the beginning are photos of eight young Jews on
whom this book focuses. You can't help but linger
here — grateful that they all survived, anguished at
how hopeful they look in these pre-war photos know-
ing, as we do, what they were about to endure.
After the Holocaust is a fabulous book because, while
filled with facts, it is never dry. You become immersed

in the lives of these individuals as surely as if they were
relatives or friends. And you won't want to put it
down until you learn what happens to each one.

A Gift of Prayer: The Spirituality of Jewish Women by
the Women of Reform Judaism. (Union of American
Hebrew Congregations; 80 pages; $19.95; hardcover)

"I can just imagine," you may be thinking, and groan-
ing, as you look at this tide. You can't.
There's nothing here of the "God, our mother,"
variety. There's nothing about "we lave suffered so
long as women." There's not even anything along the
lines of "I will make a quilt of my womanly anguish."
What there is, however, is an amazing collection of
poems that will speak to Jewish women everywhere
and regardless of their affiliation (the UAHC is, of
course, Reform).
The works are divided into sections, such as
"Talking to God," and "In Response to Death" and
"May God Help My Children." Collected by the
Federation of Temple Sisterhoods for more than 50
years, the poems reflect women's hopes and passions
and longings.
Certainly not everything included here falls into the
category of "exceptional." But more often than not,
the writing is fresh and so heartfelt it will move many
readers to tears, such as in the poem about a woman
preparing for birth:

With all my heart, with all my soul with all my
might, I pray for God to watch over me and my family I
pray for strength and courage when I labor to bringfirt h
this child, I pray for the capacity to return my husband's
great love for me, I prayfor the ability to love and nur-
ture this chili I pray to feel God's presence now and
Or in this piece celebrating a son's marriage:
Our bearded son
stands under the canopy
not touching her hand
but touching
even so
in rented
pearl grey
only the back of his head
looks familiar
and his resonant voice
I will
in this time
of their beginning
his father and I
spread open our hands
as we must
watching him leave ...

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