Friday, May 27, 2022

“Hand In Hand,” a picture book published by Apples & Honey Press, written by Andria Rosenbaum with illustrations by Maya Shleifer, tells the story of Ruthi and Leib: young sibling bunnies who live with their mother until one day she disappears. From there the siblings go to an orphanage where a tale of perseverance, heartbreak and finally hope begins. At a cursory glance, the story might seem straightforward enough, but in actuality the siblings’ experiences serve as a backdrop to a Holocaust story based on similar real-life experiences of sibling survivors. The Nazis are represented by pairs of marching boots, and the narrative focuses on the sibling dynamic, but as a whole “Hand In Hand” serves as a tool for parents and teachers to introduce young children to the Holocaust story. With Rosenbaum’s creative storytelling and Shleifer’s vibrant pictures, the tale will open discussion and promote awareness of the atrocities that many today are trying to deny.

Rosenbaum is a children’s author from Teaneck who has written a number of books, her first a picture book at age 11. Since her graduation from Bank Street College of Education with a master’s degree in special education, she has maintained her love for the craft that sparked her interest as a child.

“I write for the moments when writing is like magic,” Rosenbaum explained. “Words can be a ticket to somewhere else. They can pass you a handful of hope. They can open your eyes to a new point of view. They’ll unlock the door to a stranger’s house and let you safely explore. They can share laughter and shine a light where there once was only darkness. They gift us with understanding and spark ideas for change. And sometimes they’re just for fun. Never underestimate the importance of fun.”

Speaking with The Jewish Link, Rosenbaum discussed her new book and the background to this story. For her, it was an unexpected series of events that led her to learn about a Jewish doctor who, as a child, had been separated from his family during the Holocaust.

“‘Hand In Hand’ is a story based on similar true experiences that many Holocaust survivors went through,” Rosenbaum explained. “During that time children were separated and thought they’d never see their families again, that they had perished. And yet, miraculously, after the war, now as grown adults, some of them were able to find one another through institutions like Yad Vashem. Years ago, a medical situation in my family led me to learn about a doctor who, during the war when he was 8 years old, was separated from his mother. Thank God, after the war ended they were able to find each other. He went on to create a medication that was life-changing for one of my children. Discovering his story started me thinking about the 1.5 million Jewish children who weren’t so lucky. What would have happened to my child if this child hadn’t survived? This was a Holocaust story I hadn’t heard before and I felt it needed to be told.”

One of the important aspects of “Hand In Hand” is the fact that it’s a children’s book that deals with the very serious topic of the Holocaust. Told through the lenses of children’s perspectives, Rosenbaum has found a gentle way to introduce the unfortunate but necessary discussion that parents and teachers should have with children.

“I wish I had a book like this when I was a kid and learned about the Holocaust for the first time,” Rosenbaum added. “I had a lot of questions, and I think this book could have given me some of the answers I was looking for. Now that it’s out, I’m glad that it’s there for children to read.
Maybe they won’t have to go through a similar period of uncertainty like I did. One day we’re all going to have that important discussion with our children, and this way it can begin in a manner that they’ll be able to understand. I hope it will get them asking questions and talking about their feelings.”

On May 2, in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day, Rosenbaum will be doing a reading of “Hand In Hand” and offering a craft activity based on the book at the Teaneck Library at 4:30 p.m.. If you would like to learn more about Rosenbaum and her books, you can do so at her website http://www.andriawarmflashrosenbaum.com. She can also be followed on Twitter at @Andriawrose. “Hand In Hand” is available at the Judaica House in Teaneck, or through Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Hand-Andria-Warmflash-Rosenbaum/dp/1681155389.

Adam Samuel is a journalist from Teaneck. He blogs at adamssoapbox.com. 

By Adam Samuel


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