The Shema in the Mezuzah: Listening to Each Other
By Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Illustrated by Joani Keller Rothenberg
Jewish Lights, 2012, 32 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - September 5, 2012
Sandy E. Sasso, a rabbi who wrote other excellent children's books, and Joani K. Rothenberg who illustrated several children's books, introduce children between the ages of 3 and 6 to the meaning of the Shema and the Mezuzah, two significant items in Judaism. The Shema, as Sasso translates it, is "Listen, Israel, the Eternal our God, the Eternal is One…. Speak these words when you go out and when you come in, when you lie down and when you get up." The Mezuzah is a container holding a parchment on which the Shema is written. The Mezuzah is placed on doorposts to remind Jews who see it as they enter and leave through doors about the message of the Shema.
Sasso tells an imaginative but very instructive tale about a town that fought about how the Mezuzah should be placed. Should the Mezuzah be set on door posts standing up, as the verse says "when you get up," or horizontal as the words "when you lie down." She draws an important lesson from the decision, one that all people need to know, children, parents, and even politicians, about what it means to "Listen."