Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 155

Picture Book: In God’s Hands

Authors: Lawrence Kushner & Gary Schmidt

Illustrator: Matthew J. Beck

Summary: Jacob and David live very different lives in the same small town, but both men think little of miracles. Jacob, a successful baker, sleeps during most of his synagogue's worship services. David, a janitor in the synagogue, urgently prays to God to help him feed his large family. While sleepy during the reading of the Torah, Jacob hears the words of Leviticus compel him to bake 12 loaves of bread and present them to God. Believing this to be the voice of God, Jacob complies, brings 12 loaves to the synagogue, and places them in the Holy Ark. Soon after, David in his desperation finds the bread and takes it home to his family. This pattern repeats itself for months until the Rabbi realizes what’s happening. The Rabbi calls in both men who have come to believe in miracles and explains to them that in this case, the miracle is the way in which God’s hands have become their hands. They are doing God’s work and it must continue.

Hanna’s Comments: This is a thought-provoking traditional Jewish tale that weaves together the struggles of two men and God’s call to all of us to be the working (and receiving) hands of God. There is a lot to consider here such as issues of trust, prayer, worship, discernment, devotion, and human relationships. According to a list in the back, this book, along with several others, is multicultural, nondenominational, and nonsectarian and is endorsed by Protestant, Catholic and Jewish religious leaders. 

There is another picture book based on this traditional Jewish tale that has a young boy at the center of the story. It is Bagels from Benny by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Dusan Petricic.    

Publisher & Date of Publication: Jewish Lights, 2005

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet

PBT Category: Traditional Tale, God Book

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: acceptance, action, anxiety/worry, Bible/scripture, blessings, bonds/connections, brokenness, call/calling/vocation, choices/decisions, commitment, dependence/interdependence, differences, disobedience/obedience, faith/faithfulness, feasting/food/hunger/nutrition, found, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, God’s care/providence, God’s nature, God’s will, holiness, hope, humility, insecurity, labor/work, legends/myths, manna, miracles, mystery, outreach, parables/stories, place of worship/the Temple, pleasing God/the Shema, poverty, power, response to God, sacrifice, safe place/sanctuary, savior/saving, secrets, servant hood/service/serving, word of God

Scripture Connections: Trust in the Lord, do good…befriend faithfulness (Psalm 37:3-4); When you do it to the least of these, you do it to me (Matthew 25); Be doers of the word, not merely hearers (James 1:22)

Idea(s) for Application: This book offers an opportunity to discuss with adults the extent to which their eyes are open to the ordinary, everyday miracles we facilitate and encourage as we do faithful, God-ordained works.

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