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Meet the Author and the Illustrator

Margie Blumberg

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Price : $12.95 (Paperback, full color),   $6.99 (Paperback, black and white), $6.99 (eBook, iBook)


A shofar story for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for readers ages 7-11, “Avram’s Gift” is an endearing tale about discovering one’s roots and making dreams come true. Award-winning illustrator Laurie McGaw brings the story to life with appealing and realistic images throughout the book.

Eight-year-old Mark has two wishes: To become a shofar-blower—just like his High Holiday hero—and to make that photograph of his great-great-grandfather Avram disappear from the hallway in his new home. When the family gathers for Rosh Hashanah, though, Mark discovers that his own desire to blow the shofar is actually linked to a hope that the unsmiling man in the photograph once had. ”Avram’s Gift” is a charming portrait of a family and how their lives—past and present—mingle to make wishes come true.


A shofar story for Rosh Hashanah: It all started with a smile. Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) had arrived and my great-uncle Morris had come over for lunch to celebrate. In addition to talking and eating, I hoped that this would also be a day for reminiscing, for I’d always wanted to know about the man in the portrait that had been hanging in the hallway for years.

“Who was that man and what was he like?” I asked as my great-uncle brought the large portrait closer.

With his glasses now up on his forehead, he was face-to-face with a man he hadn’t seen in 88 years—his own beloved grandfather Avram, whom he’d left at the train station in Russia so many years ago. That photograph, which I had always found a bit mysterious, was making my uncle Morris beam. For an instant, I could swear that Avram smiled back. And in that moment, this shofar story for the Jewish New Year was born.


“A Notable Book for Younger Readers”

“’Avram’s Gift’ is a Rosh Hashanah story, an immigrant story, and a story about contemporary Jewish life all in one beautifully illustrated chapter book bursting with Yiddishkeit.”

“[A] touching and intriguing story . . . McGaw’s pictures are flawless. . . . A wonderful choice for those long holiday afternoons, it’s sure to spark questions about . . . legacies left to future generations.”

“Connections across generations also come clear in a story that’s as sweet as honey used for dipping apples.”

“A delightful, moving Rosh Hashanah story that teaches how each individual can deeply affect future generations. Exquisite watercolor illustrations by award-winning artist Laurie McGaw. Ages 8 and up.”

“Librarians will do children, parents, teachers, and clergy a favor by connecting them with this affirmative book.”

“‘Avram’s Gift’ is among the books I am saving for each of my children, who will hopefully share them with their own children one day.”

“The shofar’s blasts will be even more meaningful after reading ‘Avram’s Gift’ . . . a handsomely illustrated storybook. . . .”

“One usually asks what grade level is appropriate for the reader of juvenile book. ‘Avram’s Gift,’ however, is not meant for children to read. It is meant for children to hear as a parent or other “-eleh*” reads. That way, it becomes a springboard for telling family stories — stories that tell of love flowing from generation to generation and through the cycle of the years.

“Young Mark is disturbed by the stern visage in a photo of his great-great grandfather Avram. But when Avram’s grandson (who is also Mark’s grandfather) shares stories about Avram, Mark understand the love that binds them.  For example, when grandfather holds up the photo of great-great grandfather, “his smile was so bright that it lit up the face in the picture. ‘They actually look like they are happy to see each other,'” Mark thinks.

“Physically linking their lives is a shofar that has passed through the generations. When Avram sees his grandson leaving Eastern Europe for America, he gives his shofar to the lad. The grandson exclaims, “Zeyde, your shofar? You’re giving this to me? Really? But it’s your treasure.” Avram replies, “No, Menashkelah. You are my treasure,” and tells the boy that he will hear the shofar wherever it is sounded.

“Ultimately, the shofar passes to Mark who, as a recently bar mitzvahed 13-year-old, sounds the horn at the conclusion of Yom Kippur. ‘He felt then that everyone could hear it. No, not just the people in the sanctuary, but everyone — around the world and behind the moon and beyond the stars . . . to another place and time . . . to the very spot where the shofar came from, where his great-great-grandpa Avram sat, with his eyes tightly shut, in the synagogue, listening to his favorite sound.’

“I know just how he feels.”

“So very many new beginnings—some casual, others poignant—all conveying the message that, by remembering, we learn from the past and that, on extremely rare occasions, the past and the present can come together and be felt as one in special, tangible ways. Like a picture and a shofar.”

Book Details
Pages : 58 (full color), 63 (black and white)
Age Range : 7 - 11 years
Publication Date : September 28, 2005 (full color), October 18, 2017 (black and white)
Size : 8.5 x 8.5 inches (Paperback); 5.25 x 8 (Paperback) 23 illustrations
ISBNs : 978-0-9624166-3-7 (full color), 978-0-9994463-4-8 (black and white)

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1 tsp |  5 mL instant coffee granules
1 cup |  250 mL hot water
1/2 cup | 125 mL raisins
1/2 cup | 125 mL crushed walnuts
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp | 140 mL canola oil
3/4 cup | 175 mL packed brown sugar
1/4 cup | 50 mL sugar
1 cup plus 1 tbsp | 265 mL liquid honey

3 cups | 750 mL all-purpose flour
1 tsp | 5 mL baking powder
1/2 tsp | 2 mL baking soda
1 tsp | 5 mL cinnamon
1 tsp | 5 mL ginger
1/2 tsp | 2 mL allspice
1/2 tsp | 2 mL salt
1 tsp | 5 mL vanilla
sliced almonds (optional)


• Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).
• Prepare a 10-inch (4 L) tube pan with a nonstick cooking spray with flour or, in the alternative, use a nonstick tube pan.
• Stir the instant coffee granules into the hot water.
• Add the raisins and the walnuts to the coffee and set aside.
• In a bowl, mix the oil and the sugars together with a spoon.
• Beat in the eggs and the honey.
• Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt.
• Strain the coffee from the raisins and the walnuts into a cup.
• Alternately mix the sifted ingredients and the coffee into the honey mixture.
• Add the vanilla.
• Stir in the raisins and the walnuts with a spoon.
• Pour the batter into the pan.
• Sprinkle the top with sliced almonds.
• Bake for 60-70 minutes (until the cake tester inserted into the cake comes out clean).

Credit: Honey Cake Photo by Michael Latil



©2016 Written and Produced by Michael Hunter Ochs

May this be a year of love and kindness
May strangers come to be friends
May truth and compassion always guide us

May this be a year of hope and healing
For all of those in need
May all of our deeds be a blessing

A new year
A good year
A chance to start all over.
A new year
A sweet year
A chance to bring us closer.

May this be a year of selfless giving
May this be a year of peace
And may we forgive and be forgiven

A new year
A good year
A chance to start all over
A new year
A sweet year
A chance to bring us closer

A new year
A good year
A chance to start all over
A new year
A sweet year
A chance to bring us closer
Closer to the ones we love
A world that we can be proud of
Long as there are stars above
There comes a new year