Global Day focuses on young readers

Global Day focuses on young readers

The first Global Day of Jewish Learning, held last year, celebrated Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and the completion of his translation of the Talmud.

This year, the event is simply about the unity of the Jewish people and the centrality of Jewish texts.

The event, on Sunday, Nov. 13, will involve hundreds of communities all around the world, each choosing its own way to honor Steinsaltz’s dictum: “Let my people read.”

When the event is marked at the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains, the focus will be on very young Jewish learners. Author and poet Jacqueline Jules will discuss her books Goodnight Sh’ma and Abraham’s Search for God in a program sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey and cosponsored by the PJ Library and the J Connection of the JCC of Central New Jersey.

A number of Jules’ books have been selected for the PJ Library, a program that each month provides free Jewish-oriented books and music for participating children.

The Central federation launched its version of the program four years ago and has around 440 children enrolled. Linda Poleyeff, the federation’s director of Jewish education, said her goal for this year is to reach 500 readers. Jules’ talk is part of a plan to bring in more families. Poleyeff and federation marketing and communications director Adina Abramov also created bookmarks featuring the Sh’ma prayer, which were mailed to thousands of people in the region.

Goodnight Sh’ma — a rhyming board book about the prayer — “reinforces a bedtime ritual with books, prayer, and family togetherness,” the author wrote in an e-mail. “Abraham’s Search for God shows our patriarch as a boy questioning idols and admiring the beauty of the natural world. Through a series of observations and questions, he comes to believe in one God who comforts us all. Both books encourage children to explore the power of prayer and God in their lives.”

The 55-year-old author is the mother of two grown sons and a resident of northern Virginia. Her first book, The Grey Striped Shirt, published in 1995, tells the story of a girl whose grandparents are Holocaust survivors. Jules won the Sydney Taylor Honor Award for two other books about Jewish children, Sarah Laughs and Benjamin and the Silver Goblet.

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