At 10 in the morning on Sunday, December 18, one week before both Hanukkah and Christmas, you can enjoy two new books with a hippopotamus and a peacock, two gutsy midwives and a Lonnnnng Narrow Phaaoh -- all at the Big Blue Marble Bookstore in West Mount Airy (551 Carpenter Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19119).
Hanukkah and Christmas, those two festivals of Light in a time of Dark, have become a commercial bonanza, mostly devoid of spiritual meaning. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Giving gifts should be an avenue of joyful sharing -- filled with Light.
For Phyllis and me, the best way of sharing the Light of Bible and Torah is with a light touch and gentle laughter -- for deep meaning. (“Phyllis” is Rabbi Phyllis Berman, my life-partner and a creative teacher, prayer-leader in new modes, and midrash-maker. ) And for us, the touch of Light is also the touch of Color.
So that’s what we’ve done with these two new brief and colorful books: The Rest of Creation -- why we pause for Shabbat; and The Loooong Narrow Pharaoh and the Midwives Who Gave Birth to Freedom, in which we share a new story of both resistance to a cruel ruler and the birthing of a new community. (Did you know it was "really" the midwives who inspired and led the Exodus itself? A secret story, long ignored by the men who wrote our Bibles!))
For both books, we sought illustrations by Avi Katz, whom I got to know as a creative illustrator for the Jerusalem Report.
The long narrow Pharaoh ordered two midwives, Shifra and Puah -- to kill the boy-babies of an immigrant community, the Cross-Over People, when the children were born. BUT ---
AND -- Now the story really goes somewhere new!
We promise that you and the kids and grandkids, nephews and nieces, whom you know will enjoy the time you share reading and looking together at the colorful pictures in these books.
We've tested the books by telling them as stories in many synagogues on Friday evening and some churches on Sunday morniing, and find that adults enjoy them too.
Grown-ups, kids, and you will enjoy sharing how “the Bible, “the Torah,” can become seeds of creativity rather than narrow strictures of rigidity. We ourselves can leave behind the Narrow Pharaoh to become the midwives of our freedom.