As a child, I was fascinated with my baby book, which was filled with my mother’s familiar handwriting making note of every smile, each new food, first tooth, first word; any small milestone. While dad was the more gregarious parent, it turns out that Mama was fascinated with us kids even before we were big enough for Daddy to feel comfortable holding us.
When my sons were born in the late 1970s, I picked out baby books that I hoped would one day convey to them how cherished they were. As they started their own families, I passed on to them their baby books, hoping they would enjoy these precious records of their early years.
Recently, I received an email from Connie G. Krupin, who has written and illustrated “A Time to Be Born: A Jewish Baby Journal.” When she offered to send along a review copy, I told her I would be most pleased to look it over.
When she became a mother years ago, Krupin was disappointed that baby books she found didn’t take into account the many special aspects of welcoming a new little one into a Jewish family.
“When my own daughter announced that she was to become a mother, I knew that finally, the time had arrived to get out the paints, to research and to write,” Krupin wrote in the book’s introduction.
The artwork in this delightful baby book is plentiful and so touching. Many of the colorful paintings of babies and children bring to mind how beautiful they would look as individual works of art on a wall.
The book’s inside covers offer pedigree charts where parents may record names of the baby’s family in both English and Hebrew. Throughout the book are quotes from the Torah, the five books of Moses which begin with Genesis; the Talmud, which is Rabbinic commentary on the Torah and oral law; and from people ranging from Golda Meir and Albert Einstein to Anne Frank and poet Edie Katz.
This is a very gentle baby book, one I believe would serve both families experienced in Jewish traditions and parents who want to learn more about their faith. As Krupin puts it, “whether you are observant or new to Jewish tradition.”
A helpful glossary is included. When and why is the shofar blown? Did you know there is a traditional hair-cutting ceremony for a 3-year-old boy called upsherin?
Genealogists will be interested to learn that Jews of Eastern European descent, Ashkenazi, sometimes name a baby for a deceased relative so that the name continues. Jews of Spanish descent, Sephardic Jews, may choose the name of a living relative.
Many of the book’s quotes are written along the bottom of the artwork for a particular page. Even if you don’t read Hebrew, it is very powerful to see a quote written in both Hebrew and English on a few of the pages, such as the artwork accompanying the baby’s “Birth Day!” page. The quote reads, “Blessed art thou God, Ruler of the Universe, who has kept us in life, sustained us and allowed us to reach this occasion.”
Readers also will be charmed by the prayers, lullabies and recipes included.
With Thanksgiving a few days away, I’m thinking of Mary Allerton, my ancestor who was just 5 years old when the Pilgrims gathered to give thanks for the blessings of their first year in the New World. I remember, too, that Thanksgiving also has its roots in the Jewish tradition of the harvest festivals and some of the prayers of the Pilgrims even before they stepped off the Mayflower.
The generosity of Native Americans was an important factor in the Pilgrims surviving in “Plimoth” of the 1620s, but I am also mindful that many Native Americans would have us remember the diseases and other consequences of Europeans coming here.
For i nformation on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.