Walking in Montreal


Sabbath walk, Montreal© DURGA YAEL BERNHARD

This image of a family walking in Montreal is from the first Jewish-themed picture book I wrote and illustrated:  Around the World in One Shabbat (Jewish Lights, 2011).   This ancient weekly holiday has been around for thousands of years, practiced and preserved by Jews, Christians, and Muslims, each in their own way and each on a different day.  Since the first chapter of the Book of Genesis was first recorded, the Sabbath has been held as a sacred day of rest.

Sabbath walk Montreal 3But Shabbat, or “Sabbath” in English, is about something as ordinary as a walk in the park.  In modern times, we relate to Shabbat on our own terms.  Taking a break from the weekly grind is a universal human need.  We all need to stop and rest. Appreciation of nature is widely regarded as the best spiritual nourishment.  Strolling along a path, taking in the view, talking quietly, throwing sticks off a bridge, watching leaves float downstream, or noticing a woodpecker or squirrel – these activities relax the mind and feed the soul.

I got a kick out of depicting this family in such a way that they could be either secular or religious – the reader does not know until they read the text.  I named the grandmother after my father’s mother, Elsie, and made the parents a happy lesbian couple.  As for the two little girls, they’re in heaven, discovering the wonders of nature in an urban oasis.   Sabbath walk Montreal 2

I love Mont Royal – the beloved park that sits atop a high hill in the center of Montreal.  The people are festive in the cool air as the first snowflakes of the season begin to fall.  I had been to this park not long before I started working on the book.  The spacious view convinced me to include it among the places portrayed – places where Jews still celebrate the Sabbath.

Around the World in One Shabbat takes readers on a trip around the world through the 25-hour cycle of a single Sabbath.  Each vignette is packed full of information about this essential Jewish tradition and the cultures where it exists.  But the book is also about what makes people happy, what makes families healthy, and what helps children thrive.

You can order a signed copy of Around the World in One Shabbat here, or find it on Amazon.  This book makes a great gift for children ages 5-12 – whether Jewish or not, whether secular or religious.

Around the World in One Shabbat cover




Chanukah begins tomorrow evening with the lighting of the first candle.  Chag Sameach (happy holiday) to all my readers!

D Yael Bernhard
Author / Illustrator of
THE JEWISH EYE – 2016 /5776 calendar of art  – new!!
JUST LIKE ME, CLIMBING A TREE: Exploring Trees Around the World – new!! 
NEVER SAY A MEAN WORD AGAIN – A Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review;
winner of the Sydney Taylor Award and National Jewish Book Council Award
THE DREIDEL THAT WOULDN’T SPIN – A Toyshop Tale of Hanukkah
WHILE YOU ARE SLEEPING – A Children’s Book Council Notable Book
GREEN BIBLE STORIES FOR CHILDREN – Nat’l Green Book Festival Notable Book
A RIDE ON MOTHER’S BACK – An American Bookseller Assoc. Pick of the List
– and more!
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