Transition books help children better understand and prepare for change in their lives. There are books to help a child get ready for the arrival of a new sibling. There are books for the first day of school. There are books for moving to a new house. And there are books about making aliyah.
One such title, “I’m Coming Home!” (Mosaica Press), written by Rebecca Perlowitz and illustrated by Nicolas Milano, tells the story of a family’s move to Israel. The protagonist, David, realizes his “true” home is Israel. He approaches his parents, who have held the dream of aliyah. In rhyming verse and colorful illustrations, David and his family say goodbye to their former life and move to a new one in Israel.
Ms. Perlowitz, known as Morah Becky, is an early childhood educator who has run a preschool program for 14 years. She and her family made aliyah from Queens 15 years ago. She began writing Jewish value-themed children’s books about six years ago when she saw a dearth in the genre and hoped to fill the gap.
“I was driven to write about aliyah in particular,” she said, “because I appreciate the bracha (blessing) that is Eretz Yisrael (the land of Israel), and I believe that Am Yisrael (the Jewish nation) belongs here. I wanted my book not only to inspire aliyah, but to make the transition a little easier for children and their families.”
Geared to 4- to 8-years-olds, “I’m Coming Home!” includes activity pages to help guide them in letter writing to those they have left behind, as well as a glossary of common Hebrew words.
“Although the book is clearly written in a very positive, upbeat, excited-about-aliyah tone, it is also real and relatable when it comes to the difficulty of saying goodbye to the people you love and the places and things that are familiar,” she said. She hopes the book validates the difficulty of making Aliyah, but conveys an overall feeling of, “I know I’m doing the right thing, even if it’s hard.”
“Gila Makes Aliyah” (Menorah Press) by Ariel Augenbraun Blacher and illustrated by Shaina Koppel, was inspired by the true story of hundreds of families. The book takes the protagonist, Gila, and her family from the decision to make aliyah, to the move to their new Israeli home where the closets have no doors and where they encounter a gecko in their house, to the first day at the new Israeli school, and into celebrating the High Holy Days in Israel.
Ms. Augenbraun Blacher made aliyah from Riverdale, N.Y., with her family in 2006. The author said she drew upon her own experience when writing the book in the hope that it would help other families fully prepare for the experience.
Both books were distributed at the Nefesh B’Nefesh’s mega event that took place in Teaneck in March.
Heidi Mae Bratt is the editor of About Our Children.