Title:The Sun’s Special Blessing
Author: Sandy Wasserman
Illustrated by Ann D. Koffsky
Publisher: Pitspopany Press
Jewish day school and yeshiva classroom around the world are buzzing with excitement as children are being taught the special meaning and significance of Birkas HaChama.
On Erev Pesach, the 14th of Nissan (April 8, 2009) Jewish people will recite the blessing for the sun that is said only once every 28 years. Marking the exact time that Hashem created the sun during the six days of creation, Birkas HaChama has captured the imagination of both children and adults.
In this cogently written and beautifully illustrated book for children, entitled The Sun’s Special Blessing, author Sandy Wasserman takes her young readers along on an inspirational journey with a class of third graders who learn profound lifetime lessons; namely, that as much as things change with time, certain things always remain the same.
Through the sensitive and creative lessons of their teacher, Mr. Jacobs, Adam, Talia and the other children gain a deeper appreciation for the world that they live in and Hashem’s glory and majesty.
When Adam asks why we bless the sun once every 28 years, Mr. Jacobs replies that, “Hashem created the sun on the fourth day of Creation. Even though the sun is in the sky daily, it’s only in the exact spot it was at Creation every twenty-eight years.”
The inquisitive young minds yearn to delve deeper and Mr. Jacobs tells them of his experience reciting Birkas HaChama back in 1981 when he was their age and a student at that very school. At a class project at that time, Mr. Jacobs and his fellow classmates brought in items from that period to place in a time capsule that they placed in the ground to be unearthed 28 years later. Since he remembers where it was buried, Mr. Jacobs distributes shovels and leads his students outside near the school flagpole. The children roar with excitement when they find out that whoever taps the time capsule first gets to keep what is included in it. Brimming with great interest and exuberance, each child takes his or her turn until they have located the buried capsule.
Talia is the lucky one who finds it and the children learn about a past world. Memorabilia from the early 1980s such as a Rubik’s cube, a VHS movie tape, a New York Times photo of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, and cassette tapes of Uncle Moishy songs are among the items of a bygone era that they find.
Mr. Jacobs gives them a brief history lesson on each item and the popular cultural trends of the time. He then suggests that the class mark the special 2009 Birkas HaChama by dedicating time to learn about the history of the blessing, the Hebrew calendar and to collect items for their own 2009 time capsule to be dug up in 2037.
Mr. Jacobs asks the class to think about how 2009 will be remembered in Jewish and secular history and to select items to be placed in the polyethylene time capsule that reflect the religious, cultural and political norms of the time. Talia decides to write a letter to include in the time capsule addressed to the students of 2037, and imagines their excitement as they too learn about Birkat HaChama and are equally amazed at the events of 2009.
This thoughtful book makes a great bedtime story for elementary-aged children and an invaluable educational tool for day schools and yeshivas. No Jewish home or library should be without it.