“The Passover Mouse” by Joy Nelkin Wieder, illustrated by Shahar Kober— Kindness, Community, Tradition and Forgiveness

Wieder, Joy Nelkin. The Passover Mouse”, illustrated by Shahar Kober, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2020.

Kindness, Community, Tradition and Forgiveness

Amos Lassen

A little mouse disrupts a town’s preparations for Passover when it steals a piece of leavened bread—just as all the houses have been swept clean in time for the holiday. On the morning before the start of Passover, the villagers have swept their homes clean of leavening, one of the traditions of the holiday when a small mouse steals a piece of bread and runs through the town, ruining the hard work done by everyone. It seems that the townsfolk will never be ready on time for their Seder but what the little mouse has done is to bring them all together to work as a group to save the holiday. 

This is a beautiful rendering of a  story based upon one of the tales in the Talmud and it is all about community and friendship. The prose with its refrain, “A mouse! A mouse! Brought bread into our house!”—and the wonderful illustrations by  Shahar Kober assure that this will become a children’s Passover classic.  Not only is it a fun and creative read, it opens the Talmud to children at a young age and focuses on Jewish tradition as it  highlights community and cooperation. While “The Passover Mouse” is a Jewish story, it is a wonderful way for children of all religions to learn about Seder and the many traditions and details associated with before Passover.

.As the widow Rivka works hard to clean up her house in preparation for Passover, piling up the bread that is still in her kitchen, a little white mouse sneaks in and grabs a piece of bread. There is no way for the people of the village to know if the mouse didn’t bring the bread into their house. It becomes even more complicated when a black mouse runs out of one of the houses with a piece of bread in its mouth. Then a cat runs out of another house and it has a piece of bread in its mouth. The villagers go the town’s rabbi to find out what to do. The rabbi tells them that these houses must be searched for chometz (leavening) once again. Passover is about to begin and suddenly there is more work to be done. The villagers soon realize that when help ing one another, this is not something that is easy to do and we see that working together is the only way.

 In the Author’s note, we get an explanation of the Talmudic debate about a  possible situation when a mouse brings chometz into a clean house. This debate remains undecided toddy. A glossary gives us definitions and the correct pronunciation of the terms is the story.

 

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