There is a specific time of year when my Jewish faith and my occupation as an educator could not be more well aligned. To start, the Jewish calendar always dictates that a new year begins in September. As a classroom teacher, I couldn’t agree more. I’m sorry, but January 1st is just a day. Come September 1st, the real magic begins – a fresh start for my fourth graders (and for their teacher.) Oh, on an ever-so-serious-note, you say “Rosh Hashanah,” and my word association immediately leads me to say, “apples.’ Apples and honey symbolize a sweet year ahead. Again, I’m a teacher! I’m basically genetically engineered to love apples!
I am using light-heartedness purposefully here. Many predominant Jewish written works tend to place focus on our tragedies, our unbelievable losses throughout history, and our persecution. Given the current times we are living through, and the anti-semitism that continues to run rampant, it’s essential that awareness and advocacy remain steadfast. Yet there is also room to celebrate, and enjoy, and laugh with the everyday fixtures of the Jewish experience. These four stories introduce protagonists that yes, are Jewish, but are also worth reading for their insight, their self-deprecation, their wit, their dairy farm misadventures (sorry, Tevye), and their utter devotion to family. To those who celebrate, L’Shana Tovah!