Do Jewish people have Santa Claus

Understanding Judaism is child's play

"My first Jewish picture book" by Nea Weissberg

From Gerald Beyrodt

The spinning top is not only a popular toy with Jewish children. (picture alliance / dpa)

Jewish children also know Santa Claus. But what does the Shabbat bread mean? In this children's book, Nea Weissberg explains in an understandable way and with colorful pictures Jewish terms, customs and toys.

A prayer shawl, a wedding canopy, delicious Shabbat bread, a kiddush cup, a cup to sanctify the seventh day: "My first Jewish picture book" brings children closer to Judaism using objects. The publisher Nea Weissberg from Lichtig-Verlag:

"My first Jewish picture book is intended for toddlers and shows the Jewish cult objects drawn for babies and toddlers."

There is one object that many Jewish children already know from babies: the Shabbat candles. At dusk on Friday evening, the mother lights the candles, speaks or sings a blessing.

Jewish mother sings blessings
"Baruch atta adonai eloheinu melech haolam ascher kidschanu bemizwotaw veziwanu lehadlik ner shel shabbat. ..."

The blessing means: Praise be to You Eternal, who has sanctified us through his commandments and has commanded us to light the Shabbat light. Small children do not yet know this translation, but they already know very well that their mother sings as soon as the candles are lit. And they eagerly imitate words like Baruch. But because the word is difficult, some children say: Bahu.

"Shabbat candles are lit 54 times a year, which means that a small Jewish child will always grow up with Shabbat candlesticks, even in not so orthodox families Shabbat candlesticks are lit."

As soon as the candles burn it is Shabbat. There is a holiday mood and work is far away. A defining experience for children.

"Because the Shabbat candles are not put away and light up the room until the end, which creates a very nice atmosphere."

Children in Germany experience almost automatically what a Christmas tree is and what Santa Claus is all about. But those who belong to a minority religion like Judaism have to do something so that their children can find out what kiddush cups are and what the small box on the door frame means: the mezuzah.

Since parents sweat easily when they have to explain something to their children, the picture book also contains a glossary with explanations of the objects. Children's books on Jewish topics are still rare in Germany.

"This is the first children's picture book in Germany for a hundred years. Usually, the children's picture books that exist in Germany come from America or from Switzerland or from France. And here with this painter Jess Vogel, I have I like the fact that her drawing style reminds me of the twenties and thirties. And I found that very beautiful. The task here was to paint colorfully for children. "

For example, the challah, the yeast braid for Shabbat, looks so lifelike, as if the children could bite it straight away. The idea for the picture book came from Munich. At the Mischpacha family center, parents and teachers worked out the concept for the children's book.

Getting to know Judaism through objects certainly also makes a lot of sense for adults. Because prayer shawls and kippahs a lot about religion and way of life, remind Jews of religious commandments. Anyone who wants to know what Shabbat candlesticks, matzo breads or spinning tops mean, cannot stop rummaging. He comes across tons of stories, and each answer to a question raises new questions. Anyone who knows the items from the baby book really well knows a lot.

Nea Weissberg: My first Jewish picture book
Illustrations: Jess Fogel
Lichtig-Verlag, Berlin 2012
14.90 euros