Monday, August 14, 2017

#BlogElul and #ElulGram 2017

For the last few years, I've embarked on a project, and invited the social media world to join with me.

#BlogElul and #Elulgram have inspired, informed, and offered a little bit of additional introspection across the internet for the last few years. I'm not sure that you're all exactly excited to see it, but just as the calendar makes its way around again towards Tishri...so too does #BlogElul come around again.

Elul -- that wonderful and terrifying month that precedes the High Holy Days.
Perfect for blogging and other social media...

A month of introspection and considering, a month of personal reflection and preparation.

So what's it all about? I have made a list of Elul-related topics, and I'm inviting you (yes, you! reader, colleague, friend...anyone with a desire to share ideas about the holidays) to join me.

But you don't have to stop with "blogging." Sure, it's called BlogElul but you can "blog" in any way you like. Maybe it's your daily Facebook update or tweet. Maybe it's your Instagram photos or SnapChat story? Now we have quick-video services -- perhaps a daily 6-second video? (Challenge: somehow use that cool Boomerang app…) Maybe you don't want to do it daily. Maybe you just want to dip your toe into the experience, or just read (and share?) what others write. It's totally up to you. I always love to see the creative things that the #BlogElul community comes up with.

Feel free to right-click and save this image to use in your own posts
There are no rules. I provide the topics (see graphic or below for text) for each of the days of the month. Just write a post of some kind about that topic on that day. Use the hashtag to share your post (I like to put it in my titles) and share other people's posts as well. This could be a way to revitalize your blog, kickstart a new project, or even just get yourself ready for the holidays! I know that lots of people use #BlogElul as a spiritual exercise each year, and I'm so proud to be a part of their yearly journey through Elul.

And what about #ElulGram? This one is even more interpretive. Photos, art, illustrations, quotes -- what kinds of images can you put together to explore and interpret these High Holy Day themes? You don't have to limit your picture-sharing to Instagram (even though I totally appropriated the name), you can use any image-sharing site you'd like, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Whatever you do, tag it with #ElulGram so we can call share and follow.

These themes and ideas are broad and open, and again -- there are NO RULES except the ones you make for yourself!

And yes, I know that the dates include Shabbat. I personally don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat, but I will post before and after Shabbat. You can do whatever you like!

Are you going to play along? Let me know! Leave me a comment here, send me a tweet, or send up a signal fire.... Feel free to grab my pretty badge to announce to the whole world that you're Blogging Elul. If you let me know that you're doing it, we can cross-post, or guest-post, or even just do some virtual hand-holding as the days grow closer to Tishrei. I'll try to link to as many posts and pics as I can - won't it be amazing to all share in the Elul journey together?

I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you. Elul begins on August 23rd (it's always on time), so I wanted to give you a head start if you're going to pre-write some of your posts.

I hope that our shared preparation for 5778 brings meaning and hope, inspiration and enlightenment for all of us.

The list:
Elul 1: Act
Elul 2: Search
Elul 3: Prepare
Elul 4: Choose
Elul 5: Accept
Elul 6: Want
Elul 7: Understand
Elul 8: Hear
Elul 9: See
Elul 10: Forgive
Elul 11: Trust
Elul 12: Count
Elul 13: Remember
Elul 14: Learn
Elul 15: Intend
Elul 16: Pray
Elul 17: Awaken
Elul 18: Ask
Elul 19: Speak
Elul 20: Fill
Elul 21: Love
Elul 22: End
Elul 23: Begin
Elul 24: Hope
Elul 25: Change
Elul 26: Create
Elul 27: Bless
Elul 28: Give
Elul 29: Return

Sunday, April 2, 2017

#blogexodus 6: retell



This week, Solly watched Moana 6 times. Yes, you read that right.
It's his current favorite movie, and each day of Spring Break, he watched this movie.

It's a good one, and unlike some of the others, it does hold up.

It opens with the grandmother telling a story, one that she has clearly told many many times. It bears repeating, because she knows that its truth has been forgotten.

How is it that we can tell a story over and over again but forget to believe in it?

Is it like this with the Exodus? We tell the tale of slavery over and over again, and we tell of the joy of freedom -- but how many times in our history have we also forgotten it? Even today, how is it that we can be free when all are not?

We tell and retell, over and over. So we don't forget the tale.
It's also important to believe in it.

Want to join in? We're sharing #BlogExodus for the 2 weeks leading up to Passover. All you have to do is use the hashtag and there are suggested prompts on the graphic above (feel free to grab it). Maybe you just want to post on your Facebook or Twitter about these topics...or maybe you want to try #Exodusgram, posting photos related to these themes? I'll be posting my #blogExodus posts here, at this blog, my #Exodusgram pictures on my Instagram and also my tumblr site, imabima.tumblr.com, and who knows what else!? It's going to be a busy fortnight!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

#blogExodus 5: Seek


We search
hunt
seek out
the chametz
the fluff
the puff

We look for it
so we can
sweep
it
away

and
emerge
feeling
free...


Want to join in? We're sharing #BlogExodus for the 2 weeks leading up to Passover. All you have to do is use the hashtag and there are suggested prompts on the graphic above (feel free to grab it). Maybe you just want to post on your Facebook or Twitter about these topics...or maybe you want to try #Exodusgram, posting photos related to these themes? I'll be posting my #blogExodus posts here, at this blog, my #Exodusgram pictures on my Instagram and also my tumblr site, imabima.tumblr.com, and who knows what else!? It's going to be a busy fortnight!

Friday, March 31, 2017

#blogExodus 4: Rise


Rise up...
When you're living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he's got to rise up
Tell your sister that she's got to rise up
(Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton)

Revolutions and rebellions have always looked to our Exodus story for motivation.

It never fails to inspire.

Want to join in? We're sharing #BlogExodus for the 2 weeks leading up to Passover. All you have to do is use the hashtag and there are suggested prompts on the graphic above (feel free to grab it). Maybe you just want to post on your Facebook or Twitter about these topics...or maybe you want to try #Exodusgram, posting photos related to these themes? I'll be posting my #blogExodus posts here, at this blog, my #Exodusgram pictures on my Instagram and also my tumblr site, imabima.tumblr.com, and who knows what else!? It's going to be a busy fortnight!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

#blogExodus 3: Cleanse


We go through a lot of different kinds of cleaning for Passover.

Of course, there's the pre-holiday cleaning. Some of us take it verrrry seriously. Some of us less so. Some people go all out.

I recently read a suggestion for a personal, physical cleanse, like a cleansing diet, that one would go through before the Passover holiday. To be honest, I usually want one afterwards, when it feels like I've only eaten sugar and junk food for the whole week.

But there's something that feels incredibly holy about this period of cleansing. Much like the month preceding the High Holy Days, these days of preparation and cleaning, of cleansing both physically and spiritually, help to get us in the spirit of celebration, remind us what we're doing, and encourage us along the path toward freedom.

How are you getting ready for the holiday of Passover?


Want to join in? We're sharing #BlogExodus for the 2 weeks leading up to Passover. All you have to do is use the hashtag and there are suggested prompts on the graphic above (feel free to grab it). Maybe you just want to post on your Facebook or Twitter about these topics...or maybe you want to try #Exodusgram, posting photos related to these themes? I'll be posting my #blogExodus posts here, at this blog, my #Exodusgram pictures on my Instagram and also my tumblr site, imabima.tumblr.com, and who knows what else!? It's going to be a busy fortnight!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

#blogExodus 2: Exalt




To exalt:
-hold (someone or something) in very high regard; think or speak very highly of.
-raise to a higher rank or a position of greater power.


We exalt God for the miracles wrought at Passover, but we do so with the matzah, which is basically the opposite of exaltation. Instead of something that is uplifted and full of pride, matzah is flat and unassuming. It takes up so little space, it asks so little of us. God needs exaltation, but we need to be reminded to be humble.

The study in contrasts is a part of Pesach, isn't it? We temper each sense with another one. We eat the bitter herb with the sweet charoset. We take away our wine in sadness for the plagues. We remember the salty tears of slavery as we recline like royalty.

Exalt, yes. And always remember how we got here.

Want to join in? We're sharing #BlogExodus for the 2 weeks leading up to Passover. All you have to do is use the hashtag and there are suggested prompts on the graphic above (feel free to grab it). Maybe you just want to post on your Facebook or Twitter about these topics...or maybe you want to try #Exodusgram, posting photos related to these themes? I'll be posting my #blogExodus posts here, at this blog, my #Exodusgram pictures on my Instagram and also my tumblr site, imabima.tumblr.com, and who knows what else!? It's going to be a busy fortnight!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

#blogExodus 1: Launch


5
4
3
2
1
It's a countdown to Passover.

We Jews are great at counting, aren't we?
It's almost like the anticipation is....dare I say it....better than the event.
The launch.
The beginning.
Here it comes.
Let's launch into Nisan....and fly all the way to Pesach!

Want to join in? We're sharing #BlogExodus for the 2 weeks leading up to Passover. All you have to do is use the hashtag and there are suggested prompts on the graphic above (feel free to grab it). Maybe you just want to post on your Facebook or Twitter about these topics...or maybe you want to try #Exodusgram, posting photos related to these themes? I'll be posting my #blogExodus posts here, at this blog, my #Exodusgram pictures on my Instagram and also my tumblr site, imabima.tumblr.com, and who knows what else!? It's going to be a busy fortnight!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

#BlogExodus and #Exodusgram 5777


Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the first of the month of Nisan, is March 28, 2017.

Which means that Passover is JUST around the corner. While most people are busy making brisket and matzo balls, I'm over here busily setting up #blogExodus and #exodusgram!

This year's topics, like last year's, are based loosely on the steps of the Seder.

So what is this really about? #BlogExodus is really what you want to make of it. I've provided topics for the first 14 days of the month of Nisan. What you do with it is up to you -- write a blog post, tweet, Facebook, tumblr, or something that I haven't even thought of yet! Use the hashtag to share your post (I put it into the title of each post). It's a great way to kickstart a blog or rejuvenate your languishing blog or just get yourself ready for the holiday of Passover! I will be posting my #blogExodus posts here on this blog and I will tweet them out at @imabima. There aren't any rules, so maybe you don't like the order of the topics? Maybe you want to write on only a few of them? It doesn't matter. It is what you make of it.

#Exodusgram is a little more interpretive. While I love Instagram (I'm imabima, of course), I know some people don't. So maybe you want to share Exodus-themed photos via Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, Pinterest or....whatever! My #Exodusgram posts will go up on Instagram and then be shared to my tumblr, imabima.tumblr.com. Whatever you do, don't forget to tag with #Exodusgram so we can all share. (Note for some of my colleagues: this might make a fun teen project, maybe not done over the two weeks but instead over one class period...who's up for #SnapTheExodus?)

The themes are really up for your own interpretation. I was thinking broadly and openly about what makes Passover special and interesting to me. I hope it will translate into creative and inspirational posts from all of us!

Are you going to join in? Leave me a comment here or send me a tweet or just...jump in! I will try to retweet all the #BlogExodus and #Exodusgram posts through Twitter via @imabima. If I miss your posts, let me know so I can go back and be inspired by what YOU have to say!

*Yes, I know that I put the Shabbat dates there. I don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat but I will post on Fridays before Shabbat and on Saturdays after Shabbat is over. You can, of course, do it any way you like!

BlogExodus Topics 2017/5777
 1 Nisan - Launch 
 2 Nisan - Exalt 
 3 Nisan - Cleanse 
 4 Nisan - Rise 
 5 Nisan - Seek 
 6 Nisan - Retell 
 7 Nisan - Read 
 8 Nisan - Expand 
 9 Nisan - Perplex 
 10 Nisan - Join 
 11 Nisan - Celebrate 
 12 Nisan - Reveal 
 13 Nisan - Welcome
14 Nisan - Thank

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I Dissent: Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner {Interview}

I am so excited to bring you this post as a part of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Blog Book Tour sponsored by the Association of Jewish Libraries, and the official Sydney Taylor Book Awards. The full blog tour schedule will be posted on their website. 

Elizabeth Baddeley (l) and Debbie Levy (r)
I had the honor of interviewing both the author and illustrator of I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Leaves Her Mark. Both Debbie Levy (author) and Elizabeth Baddeley (illustrator) were so gracious and kind to answer my questions, and I was excited because they'd never been interviewed together. I've read a lot of author/illustrator interviews, and I usually try to find something new to ask beyond the usual "what inspired you to write this book." I think that you'll find this interview as interesting as I did!
My little reader (target audience, too)

The book is a telling of the life story of one of my own heroes, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I love the tagline of the book: "disagreeing does not make you disagreeable." It's gorgeous to look at, engaging to read, and really wonderful for kids and adults alike. Yael gave it two thumbs up, and I know she learned a lot because she asked questions and showed me some of the pictures as she was reading. It is noted for readers in grades 3-5, and I would agree with that - she really "got" some of the big ideas in a way that Solly (kindergarten) didn't.

Here's the interview:

The illustrations and the words flow so beautifully together. Was the whole book a collaboration? How did you come together to create the whole that is the book?

Debbie: We worked separately for most of the project, and that is par for the course in the picture book world. I wrote the words. Elizabeth created the art—including the bold and impactful hand lettering of important words like DISSENT, DISAGREE, PROTEST, OBJECT, RESIST, PERSIST, and so on. When you have excellent editors and art directors, as we did, this approach to book-making tends to work out nicely!

Elizabeth: I agree with what Debbie said. Many thanks to our art director, Chloe Foglia and editor, Kristin Ostby.
Isn't this gorgeous?
Have you met Justice Ginsburg? (Has she read the book?) What do you want to say to her? What do you hope she says to you?

Debbie: Yes, I have met her. But, you know, even if you don’t have the opportunity to meet Justice Ginsburg in person, there is an abundance of excellent video and audio for anyone to enjoy. I like this interview she gave to Katie Couric in 2016 (and not only because she talks about I Dissent at around minute 25:00!). Anyone can go to the Supreme Court website and hear audio of her questioning lawyers in oral arguments before the Court. Here is the 2013 Voting Rights Act case of Shelby County v. Holder, for example. I also really like this C-SPAN video of her visiting her Brooklyn elementary school in 1994, soon after she became the 107th Supreme Court justice.

Yes, she has read the book! She read the manuscript before we went to print and gave me some helpful notes on it. And, after the book was published, she read it aloud to a gathering of Jewish book lovers last fall, prefacing her reading by telling girls, and all of us, to “be brave . . . and not be put down.” Here is the video of that event, courtesy of PJ Library. I wasn’t present at that event, nor did I know a thing about it—so you can imagine my delight when it came to my attention!
Elizabeth: I have not been lucky enough to meet Justice Ginsburg but I did receive a really nice note from her (Debbie is just now learning this)! I sent her an original piece of art from the book—from the page where is arguing with her friend Justice Scalia. She immediately sent me a very kind note. She told me she was sending it down to the court carpenter shop to have it framed. I would have never guessed they have a court carpenter shop!

What was the hardest thing about writing/illustrating this book?

Debbie: The hardest thing was writing about law and court cases, and the work of judges and justices, in a manner that is accessible to young children and doesn’t bog down the story of Justice Ginsburg's life. This type of discussion arises in the second half of the book—once she is a lawyer, and then a judge, then a justice. I’ll just say that the manuscript went through many revisions!
Elizabeth: A difficult aspect of illustrating this book was capturing Ruth as a young girl. There are many photos of her as she is now and even when she was a young woman, but I only had one photo of her as a child—and she was only about 2 years old in that one! I gathered many photos of children I thought might look like her, looked at photos of her in her late teens and sort of pieced her look together from there.
How did you choose which parts of Justice Ginsburg's life to tell and which parts to leave out?

Debbie: That was probably the second hardest thing about writing this book. I had drafts of the manuscript that included details about the Jewish summer camp she attended, riding horseback and paddling canoes (and, when she was an older camper, leading services). Then there were these delectable little facts: Ruth played a princess in a school play called “The King’s Cream Puffs.” In high school, she was a member of the pep club for sports teams, the Go-Getters. And, going back to her very young life: Ruth Bader was actually born Joan Ruth Bader, but when her mother, Celia, registered her for kindergarten and found that there were two other Joan Ruths in the class—she decided that this Joan Ruth henceforth would be “Ruth.” (Also, she had the nickname Kiki as a girl!) And then, zooming ahead to her tenure as a justice, there’s the fact that Bubbe Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first justice ever to host a Supreme Court party with peanut-butter-and-jelly on the menu—for her granddaughter’s third birthday.

Great facts, aren’t they? But a picture book narrative is more than a collection of fun facts. Reluctantly, I had to let these and other tidbits go to construct a book that told the story of her life through the lens of her many disagreements, that did not have too many tangents (or too many words), and that focused on facts and events from her childhood that I considered most important in shaping the woman she became.


My favorite part was the way that you explained and illustrated Justice Ginsburg's friendship with Justice Scalia. What is your favorite part of the book?

Debbie: I favor that part of the book, too.

I also particularly like the page spread that has Ruth as a young lawyer considering the demeaning way the Supreme Court had treated women in its decisions, with two especially obnoxious quotes from Justice Joseph Bradley (“The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life”) and Justice David Brewer (“Woman has always been dependent upon man”) blown up in Elizabeth’s wonderful hand lettering, and on the opposite page a strong-looking RBG and more strong hand lettering: “Ruth really really DISAGREED with this!”
Elizabeth: The Scalia friendship is also one of my favorites, but I really love the spread of her in elementary school when she “protested” against having to write with her right hand. I am also a leftie and though I was very lucky to never have been forced with my right hand, I often experienced a wrist covered in chalk dust--a detail I’m guessing only other fellow lefties may have picked up on.
What was your favorite book as a child? What are you reading right now (for grownups or kids)?

Debbie: The All-of-a-Kind Family books by Sydney Taylor. Truly. I took them out over and over again from the Silver Spring, Maryland library when I was a girl. So to be a winner of the Sydney Taylor Award is more meaningful to me than I can say.

Right now, I just finished Zadie Smith’s Swing Time and am about to start Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am.
Elizabeth: Oh wow, too favorite childhood books to name! Picture books were a very large part of my childhood. I had a mother who took us to the library weekly and both parents read to us on a nightly basis. All of the Steven Kellogg books were in high rotation on our book shelves as well as the Berenstein Bears books (I’m clearly a child of the 80’s) I probably memorized every detail of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Pippi Longstocking, The Little House on the Prairie series and Harriet The Spy were often read aloud with the latter being one of my all time favorite books!


I think I Dissent must have kicked off a non-fiction streak in my current reading. I’m reading At Home by Bill Bryson and recently read River of Doubt by Candice Millard which is so rich in imagery, the books the littered with dog ears of pages I’d love to illustrate some day. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks while I work and have just started The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

Thank you, Debbie Levy and Elizabeth Baddeley, and to the Association of Jewish Libraries for extending me this great opportunity!

*The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. Presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) since 1968, the Award encourages the publication and widespread use of quality Judaic literature. Gold medals are presented in three categories: Younger Readers, Older Readers, and Teen Readers. Honor Books are awarded silver medals, and Notable Books are named in each category. Here is the list of all 2017 Award, Honor, and Notable Books.