Under Her Palm Tree: A Story of Deborah, the Judge

Nancy S. Abraham

About Nancy S. Abraham

For many years I have written Jewish- and Israel-oriented poetry, and have been published. Still, it was an aspiration of mine to write for children, having a love of children’s literature, both from the years of raising a child as well as years teaching Pre-school through Kindergarten. Some years ago, I wrote a series of stories and poems based on Jewish holidays and themes from Torah, appropriate for four- through six-year-olds.In addition to my roles as Learning Specialist and Lead Hebrew Educator at Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY, I assist in creating curriculum for our Kindergarten through Second Grade program. I was aware of a hole in the wealth of Jewish literature for children: that being, a dearth of stories about the biblical judge, Deborah. The attached story came about as a result of this lack and this need (for a curricular piece about Deborah).Along the way, in revising the text of this Deborah story, it became clear that it would best serve older age groups, ideally fourth through sixth graders. Initially I illustrated the story. The illustrations are more rudimentary and were meant to give a flavor to a possible publisher. Thus, I am not including them here.

About Under Her Palm Tree: A Story of Deborah, the Judge

This story is both agriculturally oriented and oriented toward Jewish values; in particular, to the pursuit of justice, for people and for the land. Within one of the scenarios presented in the story sh’mita is referred to tangentially. Later in the story, sh’mita is referred to in more depth, in “A Song (poem) of Deborah”, which is based on values lifted up in the text in general. I believe that young people, reading the entire text, will gain understanding of what sh’mita is by virtue of this poem as well as references to sh’mita in the footnotes and other notes appearing at the very end. It is also my hope that much open-ended conversation about sh’mita will be inspired by the poem and the entire story. Lastly, the great goal is for readers of the story to find ways to pursue and enact the values of sh’mita and justice in their own lives.