Growing up, my sister and I shared a bedroom and fought over everything. My mother, who never had a sister, couldn’t believe our fighting. “My one childhood dream,” she would say, “was to have a sister. Look at the two of you! You should be so happy. Why don’t you just love each other?” We would just stare at her as if she had lost her mind, and then continue our argument. Of course, we finally did make up (my mother asked us to say “I love you” to each other to clinch it), and my sister and I, today with children of our own, are now the best of friends.
Our history reminds me of this quote from Rebbe Raphael of Bershad: “Work for peace within your family, then in your street, then within the community.” The lesson that peace begins with each individual is the lesson my mother taught my sister and me. With the words “I love you,” anger seems to fly out the door. Making Peace Among People/Ahavaat Shalom Bein Adam Lachaveiro is an important mitzvah that reminds us to forge peaceful relationships, both as individuals and as nations. The following books are wonderful examples of learning how to make peace.
“Cain & Abel: Finding the Fruits of Peace” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. Ages 5-9. The biblical story of the first case of sibling rivalry is retold here in a way that explores the reasons for Cain’s anger, the cause of Abel’s death and the lasting effects of both on today’s world.
- Describe a time when you have been angry at someone you love. What did you do with your anger?
- How do you think Cain and Abel might have avoided being so angry with each other?
- Talk about something you did that you wish you could go back in time and undo. Discuss if there is a way to “make things right” within your family.
“Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace” by James Proimos. Ages 4-8. At 7 years of age, Paulie Pastrami began to make the world a better place by doing small things, like being kind to animals and taking care of plants. When he decides he must achieve world peace, he gets a lot of cupcakes and has his dad drive him around.
- What do you think “peace” means?
- Talk about one thing you can do today that would make the world more peaceful.
- Why do you think Paulie took on such a large project? Describe a large project that you dream about doing someday.
“Peace Week in Miss Fox’s Class” by Eileen Spinelli. Ages 4-8. Miss Fox’s students are constantly bickering with one another, and she is tired of listening to it. She declares “Peace Week,” a week of respect and kindness for everyone. It starts out being difficult, but after a few days, the class is wondering why every week isn’t Peace Week.
- What are some of your ideas for starting a Peace Week?
- Practice giving compliments to members of your family. Make sure that what you say is true and nice. How did you feel when you received a compliment from someone?
- Describe a situation where you might use one or more of the peacekeeping skills described in the story.
“A Little Peace” by Barbara Kerley. Ages 3-8. This book juxtaposes photographs from around the world with simple, reflective messages, which teach that each individual has the ability to spread “a little peace” wherever they go.
- What do you think “peace” means?
- Which picture in this book was your favorite? Why?
- How do you think you can spread a little peace?
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