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Yom Kippur Shortstop Hardcover – August 1, 2017
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Jacob makes a very difficult decision about his participation in his Little League team's championship game.Jacob plays second base for the Lions and has never missed a game. He is dedicated to his team and takes his coach's philosophy of team spirit to heart. But the big game is to be played on Yom Kippur, the most holy day of the Jewish year. It is a day of fasting for adults, and the family will pray in the synagogue for the whole day. Jacob grapples with his problem for days and even brings his uniform to the synagogue. He prays for his family and friends and other, less spiritual things. He hears the rabbi speak of humanity's interconnectedness and of the power of prayer and commitment. Although he heads for the game, he changes his mind and returns. Jacob narrates his own story in the immediate present tense, maintaining the suspense throughout. Jacob will appeal to young readers for his earnest and heartfelt solution to his problems. Ceolin's softly hued illustrations depict a truly diverse community. Jacob's family is dark-haired with pale skin, while the team has boys and girls of many colors. Even the Jewish congregation is a mixture from fair- to brown-skinned. Adler's concluding note is a sweet homage to Jewish ballplayers who have had to make the same decision. Uplifting. (Picture book. 5-9) --Kirkus Reviews
STARRED REVIEW! In 1965, Los Angeles Dodger star pitcher Sandy Koufax told his team he wouldn t pitch in the World Series opening game against the Minnesota Twins because it fell on Yom Kippur. While Koufax doesn't feature in this story, his decision is the inspiration for David Adler's wonderful new book. Jacob loves playing shortstop on his Little League team, and becomes a hero to his teammates when he catches the ball for a final out in the penultimate game of the year. That means the Lions are headed for a championship, but, as Jacob s father reminds him, the championship game falls on Yom Kippur. 'Dad says, Think about what you want to do.' This sets the stage for a more thoughtful and complex book than one might expect, for by giving Jacob the responsibility to decide whether or not he'll play in the game, Adler also gives the reader an opportunity to think about what decision s/he might make in a similar situation. Erev Yom Kippur Jacob and his family eat a meal and go to synagogue, where the rabbi sermonizes about the connections of Jews to their families, the community, and the world. The next day Jacob returns to shul with his parents, but he brings his uniform with him. He listens to the rabbi tell the story of Jonah, emphasizing the importance of prayer. Finally it s time to get ready for the game, and after changing into his uniform, Jacob starts to head for the field. 'As I walk, I think about the game . . . I always try my best but I don t always succeed. Maybe I can t control everything that happens to me. I stop walking. I look back at the synagogue.' Choosing to participate in one s religion is a defining moment, and by giving Jacob this choice, Adler has enriched his narrative considerably. Illustrations feature multi-ethnic characters, reflecting the diversity within the Jewish community. The depiction of Jonah in the belly of the whale is particularly charming, while a silhouette of a man blowing the shofar as the sun goes down brings the solemn holiday to a fitting end. A Note for Families discusses Sandy Koufax s stance and asks readers what they think about Jacob s decision. Highly recommended for ages 5 10. --Teri Markson, Jewish Book Council
From the Inside Flap
Bam! It's a speedy drive over second base. I jump and catch it. My whole team shouts, "Jacob, you saved the game!" It's Jacob's third year in Little League, and he's never missed a game. The championship game is coming up, and his team is counting on him. But then he finds out the game is scheduled on the holiday of Yom Kippur. The game is important. Yom Kippur is important, too. And Jacob has a decision to make. Jacob's story was inspired by the Los Angeles Dodgers' star pitcher Sandy Koufax, who sat out a 1965 World Series game on Yom KIppur. He was a hero to people everywhere who have made difficult decisions in order to observe their religious holidays.
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