11 November 2007

Books: Passing the genealogy torch

When I saw author Tami Lehman-Wilzig's newest children's books, I wanted to tell the entire genealogical community.

The books - in the Jewish Heirloom Stories Series - convey the importance of preserving and sharing family information while working to strengthen inter-generational bonding between children, parents and grandparents.

Each demonstrates specific Jewish values through a folktale, focuses on an unconventional family heirloom, and provides a section encouraging children to sit down with parents or grandparents and write their own story about a family heirloom.

What could be better for parents and grandparents who are themselves interested in genealogy?

Mayer Aaron Levi and his Lemon Tree and Lotty's Lace Tablecloth ($12.95, ages 6-10, Gefen) each offer a helpful online teacher/ parent guide, mentioning Avotaynu and JewishGen for more information.

In Mayer Aaron Levi and His Lemon Tree , Mayer Aaron lives in a small village, studies Torah and goes to the synagogue. The difference is that he owns a lemon tree and his wife Raizel brews special lemonade when the fruit is ripe.

How can genealogists not love the opening? A very contemporary kid says:

"My name is Joshua," he says. "I’ve just come back from my grandparents’ house. Grandpa gave my dad a black iron pot filled with soil and a small tree trunk … It’s a thick branch chopped off the lemon tree that stood in a large vat in my great-great grandfather’s front yard over 70 years ago. There’s a story behind this …"

And he tells the story of the family lemon tree and his ancestors.

In Lotty's Lace Tablecloth, a young girl wants to become a famous lace maker and begins learning her art. She also works on a lace tablecloth for her dowry. She plans to use it every Shabbat, but the Empress sees it and buys it. Everything ends happily and a tablecloth is handed down from generation to generation.

Chanukah is only a few weeks ago, and these books might fit right into your gift plans.

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