Review: Shabbat Shalom

Shabbat Shalom

by Vicki L. Weber, illustrated by Shirley Ng-Benitez

Apples & Honey Press (imprint of Behrman House), 2022

Category: Picture Books
Reviewer: Rinat Hadad Siegel

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Shabbat Shalom is part of a collection of four board books for very young children, which also includes Start the Day, A New Week, and Time for Bed. This particular title welcomes the reader into Shabbat with a cover showcasing children cheerfully eating and drinking while wearing bibs that say, "Shabbat Shalom."

The reader meets toddlers who participate in Shabbat rituals like lighting candles and eating challah. Basic Shabbat vocabulary is introduced, as well as the Hebrew (transliterated) words "Saba" for grandfather and "Savta" for grandmother. I was thrilled to see the toddlers blessed by their parents with the Priestly Blessing (Birkat Kohanim), a customary blessing for Friday night, which is not often portrayed in children's books. The illustrations are bright and contemporary. We can find a modern challah cover, and bibs of different colors with Jewish symbols and wording. The characters have a variety of skin tones, adding welcome diversity. The overall experience is cheery with a joyful simple rhyme, and depicts a happy and inclusive communal Shabbat experience.

I was confused by the lack of a spread dedicated to the Kiddush, as we moved from lighting the candles straight to the challahs. However, the idea of Shabbat being a time to get together, eat, and sing songs is transferred wonderfully to the reader and would be enjoyed by young readers as they learn the greeting "Shabbat Shalom."

[Ed. Note: This title was recognized on AJL's Spring 2022 Holiday Highlights list]

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Reviewer Rinat Hadad Siegel is a former educator and resource teacher both in Israel and Los Angeles. Rinat received her Bachelor's Degree in Biology from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev and holds a Master's Degree in Education from the American Jewish University in Los Angeles. Rinat is a pre-published author who explores the stories of communities from the Middle East and North Africa to whom she is a descendant. Rinat is an enthusiastic photographer and cook. You can find some of her photos on Instagram at @rinathadadsiegel.