Bare­foot in the Sand

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By – January 2, 2024

Long ago, in Roma­nia, young Saul heard sto­ries of Eretz Yis­rael, the Land of Israel, and he longed to go there, to wan­der through grassy fields, climb rocky hills, and walk bare­foot on warm, gold­en sand.” And as he grew, so too did his long­ing. Final­ly, he was old enough to trav­el by train and boat to Israel, where he trad­ed his shoes for san­dals. He dis­em­barked from the ship in Tel Aviv and kicked his san­dals off to feel the soft sand between his toes. Then, in joy and grat­i­tude, he said the Hal­lel prayer, a prayer of praise and thanks, and went for a walk along the beach.

While walk­ing in the sand, Saul met a stranger with dark skin and long hair wear­ing a tur­ban and a tunic. The stranger also had bare feet. Saul didn’t know how to greet him, so he recit­ed the Hal­lel prayer: When the Jews left Egypt … ” The stranger responds with the next line: “ … a place so strange to Jacob and all his descen­dants.” Togeth­er, the two trav­el­ers fin­ished the prayer and real­ized that, despite their dif­fer­ent appear­ances, they were not strangers — they were brothers.

In this sweet­ly illus­trat­ed sto­ry, chil­dren learn about the deep con­nec­tions Jews have to the land of Israel and each oth­er. It may even inspire them to walk bare­foot on an Israeli beach one day.

Paula Chaiken has worked in a vari­ety of capac­i­ties in the Jew­ish world — teach­ing in reli­gious school, curat­ing at the Sper­tus Muse­um and fundrais­ing for the Fed­er­a­tion — for more than twen­ty years. She also runs a bou­tique pub­lic rela­tions con­sult­ing firm and enjoys read­ing all sorts of books with her three sons.

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