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Written by Tami Lehman-Wilzig
Illustrated by Menahem Halberstadt
Publisher: Kalaniot Books
Blessing the challah at the Friday night dinner signals the beginning of Shabbat.
In the early 20th century, the city of Jerusalem is still a small town. Bakery owners Esther and Ezra bake the challahs before dawn on Friday mornings to be ready by daylight for delivery to Jewish families. Jacob, their reliable delivery boy, loads the cart, hitches up their horse, clicks his tongue to her, and off they go. Jacob and Soosie make several stops along the road for people waiting to select their loaves and place payment in a little tin bank affixed to the side of the cart, exchanging greetings of “Shabbat Shalom” as they go. One memorable Friday, Jacob is very sick, but he and the bakers are confident that Soosie can do the job on her own. After all, she knows the routine very well. They put a note under the tin bank so their customers will understand the unusual change. It works perfectly, and the exhausted Soosie arrives home with a full bank and an empty stomach. She is given the trio’s gratitude, a meal, and a well-earned rest. Halberstadt’s cartoon illustrations are filled with energy and emotion, vividly depicting characters and important objects in bright colors, with some backgrounds in gray, and just enough detail to set the scene. Diverse townspeople are seen with many different skin tones and a wide variety of dress indicating the scattered places from which they migrated to Palestine/Israel. A detailed author’s note explains the tale’s origins, a bit of Jerusalem’s history, and the rituals of Shabbat.
A heartwarming tale with an abundance of kindness, love, and tradition.