Jewish Values: Today Is the Birthday of the World

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On the birthday of the world, the creatures pass before God, who asks them, one at a time, if each was the best little creature it could be. A short poetic refrain, adapted to each animal and child, is surrounded by one of Alison Jay’s pretty, pastel scenes. Although “birthday of the world” is a euphemism for Rosh Hashanah, the holiday itself is never mentioned. The story’s message celebrates life and the special contribution to the world that each of us can make, so while it may allude to the holiday, it is at once less specific and more universal. Preschoolers will be charmed by the animals, stylized to resemble toys, each placed in its (idealized) natural habitat on the curved surface of the world. Whether they gain any insights into the meaning of Rosh Hashanah will depend on the comments and questions of the adult who is reading the story to them. Linda Heller is best known to Jewish readers for her classic The Castle on Hester Street.
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