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Children's Books

Day of Delight: A Jewish Sabbath in Ethiopia

by Maxine Rose Schur and Brian Pinkney
Publication: Dial; 1st edition, 1994

Ages 4-8

 

Fascinating in its detail about one ethnic/religious group in Africa, this story also tells about one of the many ways in which Jews have traditionally lived. The book is visually appealing, with scratchboard illustrations that convey the beauty of the green and brown Ethiopian highlands and the Amharic-speaking people who live there. Facing pages are outlined in bright colors reminiscent of the borders of the shamma (cloth) they weave and wear. The story is simple and tenderly told. Menelik, 10, narrates the events and activities in his family on one day before a Sabbath and the observance that follows. As daily routines and conversations are recounted, readers learn about what the family eat, the crafts they engage in, their language, the difficulties of farming there, and above all, the importance of the Sabbath to them. The Africanness of Menelik's people is emphasized. They are richly brown in color; vigorous drums remind them that the Sabbath is about to arrive; their houses (unfortunately referred to as "huts") look like those throughout many parts of Africa. At the same time, the Sabbath theme and the service inside the mequrab (synagogue) discusses the Beta Israel, or "Those of the House of Israel" as the Ethiopian Jews call themselves, and their loyalty to their faith. The story is unique for this age group in its effective and empathetic portrayal of an endangered African culture. It is a gem. -- School Library Journal

 

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