Sarah Sassoon is an Australian-born writer and poet of Iraqi-Jewish descent who lives in Jerusalem. She joins the impressive lineup of authors who will amuse, educate, fascinate and inspire participants of the Jewish Federation’s 24th Annual. Her book “Shoham’s Bangle,” written for children ages 8-11, is the story of an Iraqi family who immigrated to Israel with little more than the clothes on their backs.
Sassoon said the inspiration for her book came from her own family history.
“I wanted to write and share their story. Shoham is named after my aunt who, with my father and uncles, was a child when her family was forced to leave Iraq with the mass exodus of 120,000 Iraqi Jews in 1951.”
In this beautifully illustrated book, Sassoon weaves in the story of her grandmother’s bangle bracelets and how they help her remember the ancient Jewish Babylonian world left behind when she made her new home in Israel. For the author the message is, “To remind myself that it’s not about the homes we leave, but about the homes we rebuild.”
Sassoon still wears the bangle which her grandmother gave her. “I wanted to tell the story of the bangle and the world my grandmother came from, of cardamom tea and date cookies,” she said. “These two ideas merged together as I imagined how my family moved their world with one suitcase and one airplane flight.”
Asked what she hoped children would gain from reading this book, Sassoon answered, “I hope ‘Shoham’s Bangle’ opens up a child’s view about the different types of Jews there are from different cultural backgrounds, such as my Iraqi-Jewish family. I would also love for children to learn that Jewish history teaches us how important it is to focus on values such as being together with family, which enable us to rebuild new lives in new countries, whilst not losing our old worlds.”
Sarah Sassoon is the recipient of the Andrea Moriah Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. Her next book is called “This is Not a Cholent” which is all about Iraqi Jewish T’bit, the Shabbat equivalent of cholent which is nothing like cholent!
She will tell the story of her family on Sunday, Nov. 13, from her home in Jerusalem at 10 a.m. on Zoom. There will be an in-person watch party at the Jewish Federation for the first 20 families who respond. Others are invited to tune in from home. To RSVP for the in-person portion of the event or to receive the Zoom link please visit www.jewishsgpv.org by Nov. 1. “Shoham’s Bangle” is available for purchase. Contact the Jewish Federation if you would like a copy.
Debby Singer is the Jewish Federation’s PJ Library and PJ Our Way Program Director and a contributing writer to Jlife Magazine.