Maybe it Happened This Way: Bible Stories ReImagined ARC


Product Details

$24.95  $23.20
Apples & Honey Press
Publish Date
7.0 X 9.1 X 0.8 inches | 1.15 pounds
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About the Author

Erica Wovsaniker is a religious school teacher at
Congregation Or Shalom in Vernon Hills, Illinois. She has been a teacher for
many years and an aspiring writer for many more. A graduate of Brandeis
University, she earned an MA in English from University of Illinois-Chicago and
an MA in Divinity from the University of Chicago. She lives in Buffalo Grove,
Illinois, with her husband, two children, and their dog.


Stories from the Torah, the Old Testament's first five books, are enlivened.

A Reform rabbi and a Jewish educator use the original text, midrashim
(stories that "search or explore" the original Bible), and their own creativity
to reinterpret the well-known tales about Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Sarah,
Moses, Aaron, Miriam, and others. Sometimes they invent characters, and in the
last story, they leap into the future, juxtaposing Moses writing the Torah with
God telling him about the questions future people will have, even mentioning
the smartphone, to show the continuing importance of Jewish learning. Though
the events are familiar--the Great Flood, the departure from Egypt and the long
desert sojourn--the storytelling is engaging. The biblical figures have strong
personalities, and the authors make playful asides, such as a remark from God
to Moses when the great leader is worried about his brother's feelings: "When
was the last time you saw Aaron happy?" Although traditionalists may not be
comfortable with these adaptations, the stories make real the joy and suffering
of the Jewish people during their early days. With particularly rich backmatter
(including excellent discussion questions), the book will be useful for some
Jewish education programs, but individual readers will also enjoy this less
formal approach to the stories that have been taught in religious schools and
homes and mentioned in secular literature for centuries. Simple black-and-white
vignettes accompany chapter headings and are interspersed throughout.

This spirited collection will make the Jewish people's beginnings tangible
to today's readers.
(descriptions of Jewish values and the stories that relate
to each value, index of values and sources) (Religious anthology. 10-13) ---KIRKUS REVIEWS

Chil-dren are often taught sto-ries from the Bible as
These tales can be pre-sent-ed in an engag-ing yet sim-ple man-ner,
allow-ing their built-in lessons to shine through. Occa-sion-al-ly thoughts,
com-ments, and events are added in an attempt to bring the sto-ries to life,
with the result that they are often long-remem-bered. But there can be
a draw-back to this method of learn-ing. Chil-dren don't always dis-tin-guish
between the orig-i-nal sto-ries told in the Torah and these more col-or-ful,
mem-o-rable ver-sions. This book and its unusu-al approach elim-i-nates that
prob-lem. It explains the con-cept and uses of midrash while relat-ing the sto-ries
in a relat-able and inter-est-ing way.The authors share twen-ty tales, each clear-ly and mem-o-rably
. In intro-duc-to-ry sec-tions, the authors explain- midrash in a way
that chil-dren can under-stand, allow-ing them easy access to the deep-er, rich-er
ver-sions of the sto-ries to come and elim-i-nat-ing any pos-si-ble con-fu-sion.
The sto-ry of Adam and Eve, their encounter with the Ser-pent, and their expul-sion
from the Gar-den of Eden receives a poignant ren-der-ing; Noah and his
rela-tion-ship with his grand-son as they look toward the future feels endear-ing-ly
opti-mistic; and Abra-ham's smash-ing of his father's idols is nuanced and com-plex.
Rebec-ca, Rachel, Leah, Joseph, Ben-jamin, Moses, Aaron, Miri-am, and oth-ers
make appear-ances in ways that both edu-cate and enter-tain. Not only that, the
text appears along-side black and white line draw-ings that enhance under-stand-ing
and clarity.With this book, chil-dren learn that there is more than one
way to tell a good sto-ry and have its lessons stick.
They begin to under-stand
the use-ful-ness of learn-ing about the Bible through midrashim in addi-tion to
the tra-di-tion-al approach of read-ing direct-ly from its pages.

A use-ful dis-cus-sion guide con-cludes the text, hom-ing in
on Jew-ish val-ues and ques-tions for fur-ther thought and dis-cus-sion. There
is also an index that ties each sto-ry back to its orig-i-nal Torah source. ---MICHAL MALEN, THE JEWISH BOOK COUNCIL