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First Fast

af Barbara Cohen

Andre forfattere: Martin Lemelman (Illustrator)

Serier: Leah & Harry Katz (2)

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682302,307 (5)1
Summary: "A heart-warming story about time-honored rituals and a young boy's rite of passage. [It is] the story of a wager between two boys...shortly before Yom Kippur...For Harry it means the chance to leave the world of his sister and her friends and to join Bernard and the older boys on his block. But to win the bet he must fast on Yom Kippur--his first fast ever. Eventually both boys come to learn as much about honor and integrity as they do about one of Judaism's most important holidays."… (mere)
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Leah and Harry Katz, the two Jewish siblings from Brooklyn who featured in author Barbara Cohen's Passover classic, The Carp in the Bathtub, return in this poignant short story about Yom Kippur. Tired of playing girls' games with his older sister and her friend Gertie, Harry makes a bet with Bernie Goldman, an older boy who lives in their apartment building: if he can fast the entire day of Yom Kippur, he can join the older boys in their games of stickball. Although initially begun because of this bet, Harry's first fast - and Leah's as well - ends up becoming far more meaningful, and they appreciate the beauty and purpose of the Yom Kippur services more than they ever had before...

I wasn't aware, when picking up First Fast, that it was the second book about these characters, or I would have read The Carp in the Bathtub first. That said, this was such an engaging story that I will definitely be tracking down its predecessor! Well told, with poignant moments that stand out, this is a perceptive story about the relations among children - between siblings, friends and neighbors - and it is also a story about the deeper spiritual meaning behind religious rituals. Many of us, I would imagine, attend church or temple on 'autopilot' sometimes, doing so because it is the custom, whether in our family or in our larger community. Cohen's story is a reminder that there is a deeper experience waiting for us in these observances, if we are open to it. As someone who has experienced those moments of epiphany, and not exclusively in church, someone who has felt that moment when the world both falls away and comes closer, when suddenly everything in creation seems related, and one feels like a small part of a vast whole, I was moved by the moment when Leah, who is the narrator of this tale, has a similar moment of connection, at the end of the services. It takes a writer of skill to capture such a delicate but powerful moment!

I loved pretty much everything about this short story, from the writing itself to the storytelling, from the depiction of those deeper currents of religious experience to the way in which the children of different faiths interact, in their street play. I realized, when finishing the book, that although I have enjoyed every book I have picked up by Cohen, from her Thanksgiving classic, Molly's Pilgrim, to her novelized retelling of the classic Iraqi folktale, Seven Daughters and Seven Sons, I haven't read that much of her. I certainly intend to rectify that soon! Recommended to anyone looking for children's stories about Yom Kippur. Although this one has artwork, it is more of an illustrated short story, than a picture-book, so I'd recommend it to slightly older children, perhaps age seven through nine? ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Sep 25, 2020 |
Do you remember the first time you fasted on Yom Kippur. Was it around the year you had your bar/bat-mitzvah. It sure was not for Harry and his little sister in Barbara Cohen's First fast. Harry, who was ten at the time of the story, wagered with an older boy that he can go fasting all day. He did it because he wanted finally to play with the bigger boys; he was tired with playing with girls. Or as he corrected himself, he was tired playing girls' games with them. The wager turned serious and he managed to keep his promise.

What he and his sister, who is telling the story, did not expect was getting a spiritual experience. The books goes on describing the whole day, picking words from prayer book that was suddenly filled with meanings for them. They realized that fasting is easier if they pay attention to the service and try to follow it. It is a great preparation and encouragement for children of the same age to try to participate in Yom Kippur any way they can, written in a simply and eloquent style. I particularly liked the Al Chet segments included, because once can reflect on those even at such a young age.
  break | Oct 2, 2008 |
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Barbara Cohenprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Lemelman, MartinIllustratormedforfatteralle udgaverbekræftet

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Summary: "A heart-warming story about time-honored rituals and a young boy's rite of passage. [It is] the story of a wager between two boys...shortly before Yom Kippur...For Harry it means the chance to leave the world of his sister and her friends and to join Bernard and the older boys on his block. But to win the bet he must fast on Yom Kippur--his first fast ever. Eventually both boys come to learn as much about honor and integrity as they do about one of Judaism's most important holidays."

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