Around the World in One Shabbat: Jewish People Celebrate the Sabbath Together

Product Details
$18.99  $17.66
Jewish Lights Publishing
Publish Date
11.4 X 9.0 X 0.3 inches | 0.93 pounds
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About the Author

Durga Yael Bernhard has authored and illustrated many books for children, including multicultural books such as Around the World in One Shabbat: Jewish People Celebrate the Sabbath Together (Jewish Lights); A Ride on Mother's Back, an American Bookseller Pick of the List; Happy New Year and While You Are Sleeping. Her lift-the-flap book In the Fiddle Is a Song was a Child Magazine Best Book of the Year, and won the Please Touch Children's Museum of Philadelphia Award.

Durga Yael Bernhard is available to speak on the following topics:

  • Sabbath
  • Illustration
  • Book-Making
  • Multicultural Children's Literature
  • Jewish-Themed Art Activities for Children and Teens
Click here to contact the author.

ChallahCrumbs: Tell us a bit about your book.

Durga Yael Bernhard: AROUND THE WORLD IN ONE SHABBAT (Jewish Lights, 2011) follows the cycle of one Sabbath, beginning with preparation on Friday morning through Havdalah (candle lighting to end Shabbat) at sundown the following day. Each activity of the Sabbath is portrayed through the eyes of a child in a different country, beginning and ending in Israel. I chose to represent countries with large Jewish populations (France, the USA, Argentina) as well as places where the Jewish population is quite small (Ethiopia, India, Thailand) . . . thus we get a feel for the global shape of Judaism today.

CC What inspired you to write this book?

DYB: The idea that on every Shabbat, people all over the world are doing the same things. We are all lighting candles, reading the same weekly Torah portion, singing the same blessings and songs, and living the same traditions. Yet these similarities are taking place within very diverse contexts. Shabbat customs reflect the cultures in which they take place, and they evolve with time.

I also want this book to introduce the Sabbath itself; to describe in pictures and words the meaning of Shabbat; how it works; and why it's important for us today. We are peeking into the lives of families (and there are many real people portrayed throughout the book). Bit by bit, we gain a sense of what this ancient tradition is all about. The wisdom woven into the Sabbath has endured for over three millennia, and it is not just for Jewish people or Christians and Muslims who observe their own holy day too. The Sabbath is universally human, and undergirds much that is good in our society. The world needs us to take a break from our weekly grind; to stop producing and replenish our souls; to celebrate Creation and our place in it. Shabbat is life-affirming, and supports healthy family living. It is nurturing to children. It reduces stress and speaks to the need for shifting values in our age of advanced technology. It brings people together in a balanced cycle of time. I want all children to know about this!

CC: Congratulations! We understand your book won the Sydney Taylor Honor Award. Tell us a bit about that experience.

DYB: It was totally unexpected. The phone rang on an ordinary weeknight, and a friendly voice announced a lovely surprise. I'll never forget that. I am proud to receive the Sydney Taylor Honor Award because it endorses my book as a teaching tool and an authentic representation of Jewish life. The awards are not officially announced until June; after that I will have shiny silver stickers to put on my book!

CC: How did you get started as a writer?

DYB: I began first as a fine artist and then an illustrator. I always had a special place in my heart for children's books, and it wasn't long before my work went in that direction. The first books I wrote - What's Maggie Up To? (Holiday House, 1992) and Alphabeasts (Holiday House, 1993) - were visually-driven and required little text. I had always enjoyed writing, and decided to do it myself. Likewise, my concept books - such as To & Fro, Fast & Slow (Walker Books, 2000) or In the Fiddle Is a Song (Chronicle Books, 2006) - contain only a few words per page. Around the World in One Shabbat is the first book I've written that has substantial text. It is modeled after other multicultural books that I've illustrated, including A Ride on Mother's Back (Gulliver Books 1997, written by Emery Bernhard) and Happy New Year (Dutton Books, written by Emery Bernhard). I enjoy writing, and would like to pursue it further. Some of my ideas for books are even moving in the direction of young adult novels.

CC: What are some of your favorite children's books?

DYB: I could fill a whole blog with that list. Here are half a dozen of my favorite titles: The Peddler's Gift by Maxine Rose Schur and Kimberly Root; Castle on Hester Street by Linda Heller and Boris Kulikovn; Gershon's Monster by Eric Kimmel and Jon Muth; Henry Hikes to Fitchberg by D.B. Johnson; The Hungry Clothes and Other Jewish Folktales by Peninnah Schram and Gianni De Conno; The Seventh Mandarin by Jane Yolen. All treasures.

CC: What book are you reading now?

DYB: Do people read one book at a time? Not me! Much of my work as an author/illustrator requires research. Having just completed teaching a residency in my daughter's elementary school that focused on local history, I recently finished reading The Mountains Looks Down, on the history of the Chichester furniture factory in Chichester, NY. For research on a future book, I am presently reading Scribal Culture and the Making of the Hebrew Bible. I'm reading a children's book version of The Magic Flute to my 9-year-old daughter. Two issues of The Jerusalem Report grace my kitchen table, and I am presently foster home to volume 15 (published in 1971) of the luscious Encyclopedia Judaica which has been loaned to me for several years. Individual volumes of this exquisite set make their way to my lap on a regular basis, usurping attention from all other books. And of course, there is the weekly Torah portion, and online commentary from two particular rabbis which I cannot resist.

CC: Do you have any special Shabbat traditions in your family?

DYB: There is a new tradition in my family - that of observing Shabbat at all. My parents both had a secular upbringing; likewise, my sister and I were raised as cultural Jews; I did not even know about the Sabbath as a child. It was as an artist and aspiring autodidact that I discovered my Jewish heritage as an adult. What began as commissions to illustrate the Bible quickly inspired my personal art, seeded my dreams, and led me to explore my roots. I'm the first woman in my family to become bat mitzvah (at the age of 50); and my daughter is the first child in my family to learn Hebrew in a century. Step by step, I'm bringing the Sabbath to life in my own home - alternately using my grandmother's candlesticks that sat untouched in her china cabinet for decades, and new candlesticks from Tel Aviv. That seems appropriate. Shabbat in my home will always be a blend of old and new - and is sure to keep evolving.

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A beautiful introduction to the commonality and diversity of the Jewish people. The different stories add up to one very special Shabbat.
--Emily Sper, author, The Kids' Fun Book of Jewish Time

By the time we have circumnavigated the world with Bernhard, not only have we learned about the rich depth and variety of Sabbath observance, we understand also about the ubiquity of Jews and the love that continues to nurture and hold them together.
--Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author, Because Nothing Looks Like God; coauthor, In God's Hands

A delightful journey to Jewish homes around the world as they celebrate Shabbat with joy and meaning. Beautiful illustrations teach the diversity of the Jewish people as they gather for the holiday. You and your children will love this book! Highly recommended.
--Dr. Ron Wolfson, author, Shabbat: The Family Guide to Preparing for and Celebrating the Sabbath; copresident, Synagogue 3000

"In a world that is often in a hurry, Durga Yael Bernhard gives us a glimpse of a world that has learned to stop, to catch its breath and celebrate Shabbat. Beautiful illustrations invite the reader to travel around the globe, to sit with their brothers and sisters and taste the magic spice of Sabbath rest."
--Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, author, God's Paintbrush and In God's Name