Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Review: A Place for Elijah by Kelly Easton Ruben and Joanne Friar

It's okay to review a holiday book nowhere near the holiday, right? Good. Because Passover isn't until April.

A Place for Elijah

As Sarah's family prepares for Passover, Sarah makes sure to save a chair at the table for the prophet Elijah who is said to visit every seder. But when the electricity goes out in the buildings across the street and the neighbors start arriving at Sarah's apartment, her parents invite each visitor to join the seder. Sarah adds another place setting for Elijah, and then another, but soon the table is full with people from her neighborhood and there are no more chairs to spare! How can Sarah honor the Passover tradition of saving a place for Elijah?

Sounds like Thanksgiving at our house. Especially last year, when I joked that people should bring any random person they found on the side of the road, and someone actually did! Highlight of the day!

Seriously, the idea that everyone is welcome at the seder table has always been one of its most appealing aspects to me. Welcoming and sharing with everyone regardless of differences is never a bad thing to contemplate on, and it's especially timely during the winter holidays. It doesn't have to be limited to Passover or Thanksgiving or Christmas or any other holiday, though: without rehashing national news, I have been encouraged by reports of people going out of their way to make others feel safe and welcome, which is the best response in any conflict.

Sarah's family makes sure each neighbor feels welcome, and explains traditions and symbolism along the way. A good introduction to the non-Jewish reader, but not so heavy-handed that a Jewish child will be rolling his eyes all the way through. The evening turns into quite the party, but Sarah still frets about Elijah's arrival, until a - coincidence? or not? - resolves the dilemma quite perfectly.

Whether your family celebrates Passover or not, this is a nice little book about sharing what you have and being a gracious host.

No comments:

Post a Comment