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Review of The Magic of Kol Nidre: A Yom Kippur Story
Helen Mintz Belitsky

Image of Girl The Magic of Kol Nidre: A Yom Kippur Story by Bruce H. Siegel, Illustrations by Shelly O. Haas; (Kar-Ben Copies, 1998, paperback $6.95, ages 5 to 10).

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Have you ever looked at a painting for a long time, discovering that its details only unveil themselves after long meditation? You wonder how you could miss so much at first glance.

Cantor Bruce H. Siegel has written a story about the Kol Nidre service that will reveal a new truth about prayer to both children and adults who have watched the rays of the sun filter through the stained glass windows of the synagogue for many years and wondered why.

The story weaves lyrically through several generations. The child sits playing with the fringes of his grandfather's tallit (prayer shawl). And the same rays of the sun shine on him years later as he cradles his own young infant in his arms waiting for the prayers to begin.

In itself, this generational image is magic, illuminating in story form what is hard to preach to children about: someday the child will be the parent, and the task of explaining the ineffable will rest on his shoulders.

Through the warm and mellow light that filters through the synagogue's stained-glass windows in tones of gold, rose and blue, artist Shelly Haas creates the hush of the synagogue, the continuity of the generations, the sacredness of prayer and God's love.

"I look at the people milling around the sanctuary and know that finally I understand the magic of Kol Nidre," says the father. "All these years, the answer was around me and I didn't see it." Does he share it with his son? No, and this is another lesson to be gleaned from the story. Some things children must discover for themselves.

Read this Yom Kippur story and learn whether you have lingered long enough over the meaning of the synagogue. Discover too, the magic explanation for the thrice-recited Kol Nidre prayer.