by Stacey Battat PJ Library Professional
One of my favorite PJ Library books contains the most compelling lesson for our times, entitled Yaffa & Fatima – Shalom, Salaam, adapted by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, with beautiful illustrations by Chaira Fedele.
The value the book conveys is B’Tzelem Elohim, the teaching that God created all people as equals. Our continuously shifting and seemingly smaller world must find a way to integrate those who seem “other” to us. This story is about two women, Yaffa & Fatima, who are neighbors and dear friends. One is Jewish & the other is Muslim, and they connect despite their differences. Both of the women grow and sell dates, and care for one another. During a time of draught, they worry for one another and find a lovely and surprising way to demonstrate their compassion, further deepening their connection. Another lesson in the book touches upon the highest form of Tzedakah (charity) reached in Jewish life, which is giving anonymously.
If your family lives in an area in which a variety of cultures are represented, consider making a special effort to get to know a family with a different background from your own. Whether or not you read the book, speak with your children about how to respectfully ask questions of another and encourage the sharing of one another’s traditions. Many Jewish holidays include giving food and treats, and inviting guests to the table, which is an ideal way to get to know others.
Consider creative ways to give to others who are in particular need, as a family or with your community. One example is collecting and bringing needed items to food banks or places that serve less privileged populations, as we did in Mitzvah Day in our community on April 7th. You can also collect coins in a Tzedakah box or piggy bank to donate to a worthy cause.
Feel free to contact Stacey for suggestions, more info or to borrow the book! Email Stacey at firstname.lastname@example.org