The Latest Kids Books for Passover
Alone Together on Dan Street
By Erica Lyons. Illustrated by Jen Jamieson (Apples & Honey Press)
A charming only-in-Israel tale of resilience and empathy, Alone Together on Dan Street introduces us to Mira, who misses being with friends and family during Covid. In advance of the seder, Mira decides to practice the Four Questions on the balcony of her Jerusalem apartment and ends up inspiring her lonely neighbors, including elderly Mr. Blum and wheelchair-bound Mrs. Yaso, to sing together on seder night, each from his or her own balcony—“a choir larger and happier than she could have imagined.”
During pandemic lockdowns, news reports noted that thousands of Israelis did indeed take to their balconies to sing traditional tunes on Passover. Alone Together on Dan Street is an illustrated ode to such joyful acts of solidarity in trying times.
A Persian Passover
By Etan Basseri. Illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh (Kalaniot Books)
Ezra and Roza, siblings in 1950s Iran, are helping with preparation for their family’s Passover celebration when an accident ruins the newly baked matzah. The two take readers through their neighborhood and local marketplace as they rush to find replacement matzah for their seder.
The book is based on the experiences and customs of the author’s father, Jamshied Basseri, who grew up in Kermanshah, a city in western Iran. Indeed, A Persian Passover shares the distinct sights and traditions of the Iranian Jewish community, such as the building of a matzah oven in the synagogue courtyard and how, for the seder, Ezra and Roza’s family sit around a large sofreh (ornate cloth) “decorated with a seder plate, scallions, dyed eggs, and green sprouts.”
By Joel Edward Stein. Illustrated by Sara Ugolotti (Kar-Ben Publishing)
Young Raquela yearns to experience a seder, but in Spain during the time of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Jewish families like hers are forbidden from practicing their religion. Nevertheless, her parents try to fulfill her request, quietly gathering the ingredients for a seder that they all celebrate in secret on a boat out at sea.
Through descriptive text and appealing illustrations, Raquela’s Seder captures the hopes, fears and sadness experienced by conversos, the term, the book explains in an endnote, for Jews who remained in Spain during the Inquisition and hid their Judaism. “A long time ago, God freed the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt,” Raquela’s papa says as he fills a wine glass at the secret seder. “Let us hope that one day we will also be free—free to live as Jews.”
Leah Finkelshteyn is senior editor of Hadassah Magazine.