Austin, TX. -- Publisher Debra Winegarten did not set out to create controversy in children's literature. When a member of the minyan in her Jewish synagogue, author Lori Kline, approached her with a manuscript for a children's book, Debra's first reaction was to remind herself that she didn't have any time for new projects. But then she read the manuscript.
"My own memories of minyan are so important to me," says Winegarten. "I think because we often begin attending minyan regularly after losing a loved one, this tradition resonates on a deep, emotional level." The traditional Jewish minyan is a 10-person prayer group that meets twice daily, morning and afternoon or evening. Almost a Minyan, the team's upcoming picture book, is the story of a young girl whose family maintains connection to the past and each other through sacred Jewish rituals.
But to many, the idea of women in a minyan is fraught. About 40 years ago, some synagogues began to allow women to count as part of the minyan, and they became integral in having the number of members necessary to say certain prayers, and to reach from the Torah.
“Some reviewers are not comfortable with including women in minyan," say Debra. "But sharing this story has taught me that the moment when doors are opened creates enduring memories and emotions. The strongest reactions are definitely from women who know what it is like to be excluded from minyan, and now want to celebrate the inclusion of girls in minyan with their own children and grandchildren."
The book will be widely available in April, from Austin-based publisher Sociosights Press. The story is accessible to families from all walks of life, whether Jewish or just interested in sharing multicultural awareness with their little ones. There are Yiddish and Hebrew terms sprinkled throughout the book, and a glossary helps further the book's role as an educational tool for Jews and non-Jews alike.
The family-friendly book launch party will be Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 6:30 pm at Congregation Agudas Achim, 7300 Hart Lane, Austin, Texas. The event is free and open to the public; but please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-789-5491. Child care available.