This is not only a book for the whole family—it’s a book for the whole planet! It’s primarily for Jewish readers, but it’s for anyone searching for spiritual solace in the midst our crazy world.
Why recommend ‘World in One Shabbat’ now?
We’ve published some heavy-duty reflections on Passover recently, but this festival really is all about families, especially teaching children the stories that shape our spiritual view of the world. Earlier, we published Brenda Rosenberg’s story on creating a peace-themed seder table with children. We know that this is the time of year when millions of men and women are actively buying books about Judaism and Christianity. If you want to give a wonderful gift to your family or friends, this time of year, we’re heartily recommending a “children’s book” by Durga Yael Bernhard, “Around the World in One Shabbat: Jewish People Celebrate the Sabbath Together,” published by Jewish Lights.
Who is Durga Yael Bernhard and why did she create this book?
Durga is a Mom and a multi-talented artist, as a painter, a musician and a writer. She’s easy to find online. Here are a few great starting points: To explore her full body of work, visit the main website for her artistic work. But, to really dig into the thinking behind this new “children’s book,” visit Durga’s blog where her early April post describes her thoughts while creating this book.
You can read the entire April post yourself, but here’s a taste of what she has to say about this new book. Her analysis is so close to the core values of ReadTheSpirit, that we’re sharing just a few lines to whet your appetite for more. She writes in part …
The recent economic recession has compelled many people to re-examine the rampant materialism and mushrooming debt of our society. As our priorities shift, we strive to spend less and save more; to recycle and replant; to meditate and do yoga; to resist the runaway train of productivity and take a break. Good advice for overworked executives, understaffed police, overburdened judicial systems, sagging bureaucracies, and most of all, busy moms and dads. We all need a rest in order to do a good job.
Encompassing all these techniques for relaxation and rejuvenation is the Sabbath, the ancient tradition that sets in rhythm a cycle of labor and rest. The Sabbath governs the timing of rest. It sets it apart, protects it, and gives it equal status to our noblest ambitions; in fact, it enables those ambitions. This ancient tradition just might be the key to modern time management. As the silence between notes allows music to breathe, as the space between logs allows fire to ignite; as contemplation allows creativity to flow, so too does the sacred time of rest provide something crucial to our busy human lives.
Wondering why we put “children’s book” in quotes? Well, perhaps it’s obvious now that we recommend this book for entire families—the very young, of course, but all of us who care about extending these spiritual treasures to each new generation.
If You’re a Christian Family Preparing for Holy Week
The plot of this book is as simple as the cover suggests: We circle the globe, page by page, with illustrations and brief stories about Jewish families in various cultures preparing for the Sabbath. The detail at right appears in a two-page spread from South America. The text begins: “In Buenos Aires, Argentina, the sun is already high in the sky when Alicia wakes from her nap. Laughter comes from the kitchen as Alicia’s sister and her friend are kneading challah dough. Papa is home from work early to prepare for the Sabbath … He gets busy helping to wash and clean the house.” This whole family is involved!
Think about the craziness in many Christian households, preparing for a typical weekend with church services and perhaps a Sunday family dinner. Now, multiply that by 10 for Holy Week and Easter in many households. Bernhard reminds us that famlies around the world face similar challenges—and many regulate their lives through religious traditions that provide the necessary Sabbath time for respite and happiness.
Over the past decade, the subject of Sabbath has become a popular theme across Christianity. Countless religious leaders and authors have written about the need to recapture the richness of our traditions to save ourselves from destructive anxiety, stress and isolation. We just published a major interview with best-selling author Dr. Meg Meeker, touching on very similar themes from a Christian perspective.
We want our international conversation to continue
Conversation is far better than the dangerous shouting matches we’ve been witnessing in our global culture. So, please, email us at [email protected] and tell us what you think of our stories—and, please tell a friend to start reading along with you!
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Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.