cherokee Family Fashion Jewish Life & Religion modeh ani prayer

A Cross-Cultural Lesson in Gratitude – Tablet Magazine

A Cross-Cultural Lesson in Gratitude – Tablet Magazine

Reading an image ebook to a toddler isn’t a monologue; it’s a dialog. The photographs and phrases on the page (or display) are simply the start line. From there, you’ll be able to open a wide-ranging dialogue that makes use of the guide as a jumping-off level to debate artwork, values, character, family, collective motion … pretty much anything.

Here’s a suggestion for utilizing two terrific picture books—Modeh Ani: A Good Morning E-book by Sarah Gershman and We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell—to speak about gratitude, faith, and historical past.

You in all probability know Modeh Ani because the morning prayer. Its gist is straightforward: Thanks for restoring my soul. You say it before you even get away from bed. The simplicity of Modeh Ani is why it’s one of many first prayers Jewish youngsters study … however in fact, minimalism—when accomplished nicely—is complicated. Simply with the ability to get up within the morning is mysterious and delightful. The blessings of existence are massive and small, divine and really human.

Modeh Ani: A Good Morning Guide, which gained a Sydney Taylor Honor in 2011, perfectly captures the temper that makes this prayer feel particular. Sarah Gershman’s text is quiet, unflashy, and profound. It’s filled with brief sentences like these:

Thank you God for waking me from my sleep.
You help me distinguish between day and night time.
You give me eyes that open.
Might I see the goodness in individuals.
You created me in your picture
and there is no one else quite like me.
I am blessed with folks that love me.
Might I give love to others and help these in need.

Bits of the actual Hebrew prayer arc, soar, and wind via the pages, in both Hebrew letters and transliteration. Kristina Swarner’s illustrations are luminous, color-saturated, and delicate, filled with movement and magic, all cool blues and electrical daytime yellows. (Modeh Ani’s companion guide, The Bedtime Sh’ma, is equally thoughtful, with a deeper, bluer palette, speckled with starry dots and restful purple washes of colour … but if you read it to your baby, please change the wrong “lay” to “lie” and picture me dying slightly inside.) I really like that Gershman doesn’t give God a gender, and that she emphasizes doing good as part of being grateful.

The e-book’s back matter presents excerpts in Hebrew and English from Birkot HaShachar, the morning blessings, and explains Modeh Ani in a bit more element. Gershman notes that mornings are often chaotic for families with younger youngsters, which is strictly why the morning blessings resonate. “The facility of these prayers comes from the juxtaposition of the mundane and the profound, the human and the divine. We give thanks for blessings both small and enormous, similar to the power to open our eyes and the dawn—each powerful shows of God’s splendor,” she writes.

It’s instructive to match and distinction the ebook with We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, which garnered starred critiques from Kirkus, Faculty Library Journal, and The Horn Guide, and gained the American Library Affiliation’s Sibert Medal for the perfect informational guide for youngsters final yr. The primary web page reads, “Cherokee individuals say otsaliheliga to precise gratitude. It’s a reminder to rejoice our blessings and mirror on struggles—day by day, throughout the year, and throughout the seasons.” On the backside of that page and lots of others, the Cherokee phrases are translated, transliterated, and written in the Cherokee alphabet.

From ‘Modeh Ani: A Good Morning E-book,’ adapted by Sarah Gershman and illustrated by Kristina Swarner (Courtesy EKS Publishing Co.)

We Are Grateful takes us via an prolonged household’s yr. They really feel otsaliheliga (oh-JAH-lee-heh-lee-GAH) to unelanvhi (oo-NEH-la-nuh-HEE), literally “the one who offers all,” as the seasons cross. The ebook opens in autumn, with the Nice New Moon Ceremony, when “we clear our houses, put on new garments, take pleasure in a feast, and overlook previous quarrels to welcome the Cherokee New Yr.” Winter brings gratitude for “buttery bean bread and steamy hominy soup.” In spring, the family is grateful “for thunder and lightning’s safety of the rising sprouts.” In summer time, the household feels otsaliheliga as “we sink our tooth into the season’s first harvest at the Green Corn Ceremony.”

The ebook is gorgeous in its specificity, while additionally allowing Jewish mother and father to attract parallels with our own traditions. Our new yr, too, starts in the fall and is tied to the brand new moon; we, too, put on new clothes, forgive and request forgiveness. (The afterword mentions that at fall’s Great New Moon Ceremony, “individuals quick, train, share a group meal, after which stomp dance.” We do all this stuff at the beginning of our new yr, too, aside from the stomp dance. We Jews beat ourselves on the breast as an alternative. Welcome to Judaism.) So most of the ceremonies and rituals named all year long—taking good care of wildlife, revealing the Cherokee identify of a child, offering a seasonal prayer for rain, remembering the ancestors’ sacrifices—virtually actually made me quiver in recognition. Similar-same! Yet totally different!

Frané Lessac’s gouache paintings are richly hued, intentionally folk-arty, filled with beautiful detail. There’s a lot for a kid to gaze at on every web page: embroidered skirts, feathered hats, adorned pottery, flowering timber. In one image, the place the family gathers “to recollect an uncle who has passed on,” there are feathers resting towards the tombstone; I used to be reminded of our custom of leaving stones on a grave—something an adult reader may need to point out to a toddler. As well as, I appreciated the various totally different skin tones of the characters … one thing Jewish books are nonetheless engaged on.

The again matter is unusually deep, offering many teachable moments for folks, grandparents, academics, and caregivers. Sorell pointedly notes that otsaliheliga stays a core worth despite Cherokee individuals’s ample causes to feel disengaged and unthankful. She explains The Path of Tears (when 100,000 Indians from totally different tribal nations have been pressured out of their homelands, and lots of died from strolling all day and sleeping outdoors in brutal heat and icy cold) in easy but potent language. I felt parallels to Jewish historical past there, too, with Jews as each the removed and the removers. Sorell also discusses the preservation of the Cherokee language; Sequoyah, in 1821, created the Cherokee syllabary, a character-based system that represents syllables that can type phrases, phrases, or complete sentences. I used to be reminded of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda’s 1851 creation of the first Hebrew dictionary, the creation of recent Hebrew phrases, and revival of Hebrew as a dwelling language.

We Are Grateful’s writer, Charlesbridge, consists of even more assets on its web site. There are recordings of a Cherokee language speaker saying the phrases in the guide correctly, downloadable coloring sheets, and a instructor’s guide.

Each We Are Grateful and Modeh Ani give adults a gap to speak with youngsters about what blessings are. Typically we overlook that youngsters don’t truly know sure widespread words that we’ve never outlined for them and take as a right that they know. Why is it typically exhausting to really feel grateful? Why may we need to keep in mind tragic events in our history … and really feel grateful despite them? Why is it necessary to remember ancestors? Furthermore, why do we expect otsaliheliga is in first-person plural voice, whereas Modeh Ani is likely one of the few Hebrew prayers in the first-person singular?

If you want to go the additional mile, you may also decide up Thank You, Omu (pronounced AH-moo), a tasty ebook about gratitude for a grandmother who makes a tasty soup that feeds the entire group. The group, fortunately, exhibits its gratitude proper again. Oma is the Igbo word for queen; author-illustrator Oge Mora, who gained the Caldecott Honor this previous yr for this (her very first ebook! fellow Rhode Islander, I salute you!) is of Nigerian heritage. The art, depicting candy-colored city life in textured acrylic paint, filled with blocks and rectangles and patterned-paper collage, is superreminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats’ work. Once more, we grown-ups are given a gift: a chance to talk cross-culturally about being grateful, concerning the importance of family and group, and about why we have to be giving and beneficiant individuals.

Because we do.


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