David's Garden: Finding Home

Tags: Arts and Culture, Books, Judaism, Shavuot, Passover, Jewish Identity, Community, Am Yisrael, Bible

By Amy D. Goldstein

The Jewish people have been scattered across the world for generations.

Between exile and immigration, moving around is a part of our national history. Inevitably, this has also become a part of our national culture and identity. But that doesn’t make settling into a new home any easier for our children.

In my new children’s book, David's Garden, I weave together a parable that connects the holidays of Pesach and Shavuot with a story of renewal and redemption through the land.

His family’s move to a new house has a strong impact on young David - from his loneliness during a cold winter to his excitement as he watches the garden come to life in Spring - all of which is brought to life by award-winning illustrator Robert Sauber.

This is a book that speaks not only to young Jewish children, but we the parents who are seeking to raise them with a consciousness of our history alongside a positive sense of self and Jewish identity.

A parallel is drawn between the winter and slavery in Egypt, and Spring's thaw and the Exodus. Only when David is in the fully blooming garden – and his favorite flower opens that the feels truly happy.

Woven into the story is David's relationship with his grandmother, an avid gardener, with whom he shares the garden's progress while she visits for Passover.

Moving from Passover to Shavuot, David waits for his favorite flower to appear. By the end of the story, David has changed, mirroring the growth and emergence of his garden.

David's story reflects a variety of themes in Judaism: slavery and freedom, the giving of the Torah (marked by Shavuot), the connection to the Land of Israel (the garden), and the completeness that David feels when he is in the garden, and the rose finally blooms).

This final episode reflects Yehuda ha-Levi's view that the epitome of human potential can only occur when the Jewish People are in the Land of Israel living a life guided by Torah values.

Moshe Ibn Ezra Poem

The story at the center of David's Garden, based on a Moshe ibn Ezra poem, was first told to engage the imagination of five small children as their parents were getting ready for Shavuot.

The kids loved the story and it became a holiday tradition. More groups of children have enjoyed the story over the years.

As a book meant to be shared between adult and child, there is a section that guides the discussion and its underlying message about the Jewish People, slavery, freedom, the giving of the Torah, and even the connection to the Land of Israel.

We have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of this book so that it can be completed, published, and get into the hands of Jewish children everywhere.

Luckily, the Jewish book market is robust – with diverse distribution avenues that all seek to get Jewish-themed books into the hands of Jewish children.

Lots of books exist for Hanukka, Passover, and Rosh Hashana. Very, very few books address the holiday of Shavuot, which is often called the “forgotten holiday”, as it comes in the summer. David's Garden seeks to fill that vacuum in the marketplace.

We hope that you will consider supporting this important initiative, as David’s Garden shares in the mission of The Israel Forever Foundation of seeking out unique ways to engage and inspire our children to grow up with a positive connection with our faith, our past, our people, and our land.

Amy D. Goldstein is passionate about teaching others about Jewish history and religion. Born in Detroit, Amy she grew up with a deep appreciation of Jewish history, pursuing a Ph.D. at the Jewish Theological Seminary, specializing in the cultural history of medieval Sephardic Jews. Amy worked for more than 20 years working for the Jewish community in various organizations, while teaching classes and writing articles on Jewish subjects. Amy lives in Houston, Texas with her daughter and two cats.

See Book's Website here.

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Tags: Arts and Culture, Books, Judaism, Shavuot, Passover, Jewish Identity, Community, Am Yisrael, Bible