Title: The Family Parsha Book
Author: Shalom Hammer
Publisher: Pitspopany Press
Shalom Hammer is certainly an accomplished educator; he teaches adults and children at the same time with The Family Parsha Book. A sourcebook for making Shabbat more meaningful with instructive interaction between adults and children, the lively text is accompanied by great graphics, Parsha Points and Puzzlers, Learning Lessons and Haftorah Highlights.
An Alef-to-Tav with side-by-side English translations Name Key precedes everything in the front of the book, alerting readers and listeners to the personalities they’ll be learning about. Parsha Points list the fundamental ideas in the Torah portions being studied. They’re followed by questions that prompt answers in an alphabetically ordered manner (think of a clued-in child happily yelling “I know! I know! It starts with a Bet and the word is Braisheet!”). Parsha Puzzlers ask participants to think newly learned concepts all the way through to their logical conclusions, thus cementing preceding lessons into long-term memories. A glossary follows each lesson on individual parshiot, providing user-friendly effective reviews about the concepts that were just studied. This is just what the SQ3R principle was all about when I studied educational theory: teach the student to Survey the text in order to get a basic idea of what it’s about, to Question himself/herself about what they’d like to learn therein, and to Read, Recite and Review the material for a long-term lesson they’re not likely to forget. The Family Parsha Book can be a fun treat for any schoolchild, including those with learning difficulties.
Spiritual gems abound in the book, such as the lesson on emunah on page three (read it yourself and grin), as well as the one about the forbidden use of slow-rising dough in a holy place on page 81. The author clearly conveys the Creator’s lesson for the ages to us by clarifying that Jews “cannot approach holiness slowly and wait for mitzvot to come to us. We have to serve Hashem by looking for opportunities to perform mitzvot without delay.”
Do your part by hurrying to buy Pitspopany Press’ publication of The Family Parsha Book. Young or old, new to Orthodoxy or old-time lover of Jewish life and lore, you’ll learn a lot from this slim hardcover book. It’s just right for any lap and a lot of good times. It’s also a terrific item to have in the car or plane during long trips. The children who learn about upcoming Torah portions will happily anticipate the pride of amazing their listeners, and they’ll probably ask “Are we there yet?” without ever kicking adults’ seats.
Yocheved Golani is the author of “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry if I Need To: A Life for Helping You to Dry Your Tears and Cope with a Medical Challenge.“