Miryam’s Dance

  • Review
By – December 4, 2023

Miryam lives in a small Jew­ish vil­lage in Ugan­da. As Shab­bat approach­es each week, her fam­i­ly cooks deli­cious food and pre­pares to spend the hol­i­day with their com­mu­ni­ty. One day, Miryam hears and becomes entranced by a rhyth­mic drum­beat. Instead of focus­ing on her Shab­bat prepa­ra­tions, she fol­lows the hyp­not­ic sounds and finds a group prac­tic­ing a spe­cial dance to wel­come Shab­bat. Miryam joins them and dances with aban­don until she real­izes her moth­er is wait­ing for her at home.

When Shab­bat arrives, Miryam rush­es to join the dance troupe in their won­der­ful sway­ing motion. Her moth­er begins to admon­ish her, explain­ing that this is not the way they usu­al­ly observe Shab­bat; but Miryam reminds her that there are many ways to cel­e­brate. In a very spe­cial Shab­bat expe­ri­ence, Miryam and her moth­er accom­pa­ny the dancers.

An after­word writ­ten by the chief rab­bi of Ugan­da, Ger­shom Sizomu, describes Jew­ish life in Ugan­da. He dis­cuss­es the Abayu­daya, which means peo­ple of Judah” in the Lugan­da lan­guage. He details the African rhythms of Shab­bat ser­vices and some of the foods that the Abayu­daya enjoy.

Col­or illus­tra­tions depict a beau­ti­ful land­scape, com­plete with spec­tac­u­lar wildlife. This sto­ry reminds read­ers that there are many Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties world­wide, and they all cel­e­brate Shab­bat in their own ways.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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