Sunday, January 18, 2015

Have you told your kids about shemittah?

image from the children's book Sharing Shmittah, by Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod

You might know already that here in Israel, this is a shemittah year.

Shemittah is the 7th year of a 7-year cycle found in the Torah, and all year long, Torah-observant farmers aren't working their crops in the usual way.  Yet thanks to a few modern loopholes, many of us, even here, are just buying fruits and vegetables the normal way.

I've been studying shemittah for the last couple of months with a wonderful group of ladies here in Kiryat Shmuel, using a book called (surprisingly enough!) Shemitah, by Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon.  (There are lots of ways to spell Shemittah!)

If you live in Israel, your kids may find out about shemittah in school if they’re old enough.  But for younger kids, there’s not really any way to find out what it’s all about (at least, not that I could find). 

When I lived outside of Israel, I knew nothing about it… let alone knowing enough to share some of the main ideas with my kids.  We read about it when we read the weekly parsha, and that was that.

The laws of modern shemittah observance can be complicated and daunting for adults, but it really does boil down to a few simple principles.  And my favourite thing to do once I’ve learned something, is to turn around and find a way to transform it into a kids’ book.

So I’ve taken some of what I’ve learned, from Rabbi Rimon’s book and other sources, and turned it into a short, sweet rhyming song. 

(think, "This is the way we wash our hands..." but with a few fun poetic twists and turns)

Here’s the result… a little book called Sharing Shmittah, a “learn-along” song for the whole family.
Cover from the children's book Sharing Shmittah, by Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod

Amazing what a difference the right illustrations can make.  I’ve used these greeting-card-sweet whimsical farm scenes featuring appropriately-dressed boys and girls showing their pride in Israel and the Torah.
image from the children's book Sharing Shmittah, by Jennifer Tzivia MacLeodimage from the children's book Sharing Shmittah, by Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod

(I love these pictures!)

I really hope this book, the only one I’ve seen for young kids, will help Jewish parents – inside and outside of Israel – share shemittah with younger kids easily, in a fun and meaningful way.

Sharing Shmittah (I spelled it that way because it rhymes better!) is "pre-release" priced for Kindle until the end of January for only 99 cents.

Please download it while it’s on sale, check out the parents' / educators' guide at the back, and sing it right along with any kids you know.

Right now, it’s only available as an ebook (I use a free program called Calibre to convert the Kindle format so I can buy Kindle books and read them any of our four ereaders). 

If you're not an ebook lover, this book will also be available in the next couple of days in print form as well; I’m just working out the final technical issues.  If it’s not available yet, check back soon and it'll probably be ready.

 

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה

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