My little prayer and story book from the Western Wall.
(photo credit: PR)
Last Sunday evening, I had the pleasure of attending a unique book launch in the Old City. It was a celebration of a much-anticipated children’s prayer and storybook published by the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, in collaboration with three acclaimed Jewish children’s book authors/ illustrators in America.
The innovative Teach It To Your Children project was spearheaded and funded by Martin and Melanie Glatt, recent olim from South Africa working together with the foundation’s talented educational department.
For the couple, the connection to the Kotel is an integral part of their everyday life. Martin often stands at the Western Wall Plaza on Friday nights handing out special prayer books; helping people find a way to connect to the spirituality of the Kotel has become his mission.
The idea behind My Little Prayer and Story Book from the Western Wall was to give children visiting the holy site a way to connect with the experience. The colorful illustrations and easy-to-read text guide children and parents through the process.
Indeed, the work begins with a note to parents with practical tips on how to interact with your kids at the Kotel, and how to involve them in the experience.
Through whimsical illustrations, the book tells the story of Jerusalem, the Temple and the Western Wall through Jewish history, then introduces the reader to the different types of people who visit the Wall today. It finishes with explanations of prayers that children can say at the Wall, with English translation as well as the customs for how to respectfully leave the area.
The new siddur will be available at the Western Wall for children to use and will also be on sale at the Kotel Tunnels cashier.
The book launch had a festive feel and included all of the people from around the world who helped put the project together, as well as friends and family of the Glatts. Nikky and Jonathan Newfield, Martin and Melanie’s daughter and sonin- law, attended the event with their three children; as a special gift to her father, Nikky – who founded a digital Jewish education organization called Jewish Interactive – created an app of the siddur with her children’s voices reading the stories and saying the prayers. What a way to symbolize the power and importance of educating the next generation! Western Wall Chief Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz was one of the prominent guests and he spoke about how the Glatts have been involved in several projects at the site. He emphasized their contribution with a story about how a special siddur commissioned by the couple for the Kotel once affected an unaffiliated family.
Rabinowitz detailed how he once met a man who came to the Western Wall after a funeral to say kaddish. A European Jew who had never prayed before, he told the rabbi that the prayer book gave him the guidance he needed to perform this religious ritual. He asked Rabinowitz where he could buy this book that brought him back to his roots and tradition.
Martin and Melanie hope that the new children’s prayer book will have the same effect. Whether it is used by a child to read about the Kotel while their parents are taking a few minutes to pray, or whether it is used for the child’s prayer, this siddur will hopefully create a link for the child to this holy site.
The writer, founder of Fun In Jerusalem (www.funinjerusalem.com), lives in the capital with her husband and three kids and loves to inspire family fun. firstname.lastname@example.org
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