Green Bean Books

Workitu’s Passover

Written by Maayan Ben Hagai, Zahava Goshen

Illustrated by Eden Spivak

Price: £10.99

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781784388997

Highlights

  • Great portrayal of the Passover tradition and how letting go of the old is necessary to make space for the new

  • Teaches children that good things can happen if we are open to new ideas and challenges

  • Beautifully illustrated throughout

Description

It is another day at Workitu’s village. As usual, she is awoken by the morning sounds of the village. However, for Workitu, something doesn’t feel right. She knows that today, ahead of the Passover celebrations, she will have to break all of the crockery she had become so used to, including her favourite cup, the one she made all by herself. She can’t help but feel that she will be losing something valuable and meaningful to her.

Then, an incident makes her drop the cup she was holding on to the ground, breaking it into pieces. Workitu begins to cry, but then her auntie shares a secret she learned a long time ago, and Workitu is finally able to see this tradition in a new light: “It’s good to break things sometimes. To let go of old things . . . I break, and then I make. All with the same hands.”

With beautiful illustrations throughout, this is a meaningful tale about the importance of letting go of the old to make space for the new, and how family traditions are passed on through generations.

Read an interview with the authors here.

 

Reviews

In this touching, folk-like tale, Workitu, a young Ethiopian Jewish girl, discovers that her family’s Passover ritual of smashing their hand-made clay dishes, including her favorite cup, is a meaningful tradition of transforming the old into something new. Eden Spivak’s illustrations depict the warmth of rural village life.’  – Jewish Telegraph Agency 

‘In this charming and lovingly illustrated tale of a Jewish Ethiopian family, a young girl, Workitu, learns about her family’s Passover custom of breaking their dishes to be certain every trace of chametz is destroyed. Workitu cherishes certain pieces of the family pottery and can’t understand why the beautiful, graceful vessels should be shattered each year and then ground into powder.

Nevertheless, Workitu follows her mother’s instructions, and along with her little sister Almaz, carries the pottery to her nearby Auntie Balainesh’s where the shattering and grinding is to be done. Auntie Balainesh patiently explains that the old must make room for the new, and Workitu allows Auntie to teach her to mix the powder from the broken vessels with clay, to knead it and create new vessels. When Workitu realizes that the family’s dishes were made over at each Passover through the generations, she comes to appreciate the tradition and learns that sometimes you have to say goodbye to treasured things. She is proud of the new oil jug she fashioned out of her favorite cup and pot, and is ready to enjoy all the new pottery the next day at Passover.

I love the lyrical text by Zahava Workitu Goshen and the neutral tones (except for some small splashes of color) in the artwork by Eden Spivak. The Jewish content is strong and the book gives American children a wonderful opportunity to learn about an ancient Jewish Ethiopian tradition still carried on today. But you certainly need not be Jewish to enjoy this story and empathize with Workitu. There is a full recounting of the Passover story in the front of the book’. — Arlene Schenker, SydneyTaylorSchmooze.com

‘In this touching, folk-like tale, Workitu, a young Ethiopian Jewish girl, discovers that her family’s Passover ritual of smashing their hand-made clay dishes, including her favorite cup, is a meaningful tradition of transforming the old into something new. Eden Spivak’s illustrations depict the warmth of rural village life..’ – Penny Schwartz, Jewish Press of Tampa Bay

Which of us hasn’t smashed a bowl or two in changing over our chametz and non-chametz crockery for Passover? In Zahava Workitu Goshen’s childhood in Ethiopia, it was the practice to smash every chametz vessel in the home – and then grind down the clay, mix it with new and use it to shape fresh vessels for Pesach, which would be deemed free of chametz. This breaking and re-making is now the focus of a memorable picture book, co-written by Goshen and Maayan Ben Hagai, illustrated by Eden Spivak and translated by Jessica Bonn.’ – Angela Kiverstein, The Jewish Chronicle

‘With beautiful illustrations throughout, this is a meaningful tale about the importance of letting go of the old to make space for the new, and how family traditions are passed on through generations.’ – Jewish Book World

‘This charming story is a perfect example of multicultural representation of the Jewish diaspora. Most Jewish children’s literature depicts white Ashkenazic Jews of European decent. It is important for children to see that there are Jews of all colors from all over the world. Jewish children will enjoy reading a different type of Passover story. But any child can appreciate the themes presented.’  – StoryBook Lady (Posted on Amazon.com and GoodReads)