By Brynn Olenberg Sugarman
Illustrated by Yasu Matsuoka
NIS50. Softcover, 30 pages.
Createspace/Amazon Self- Publishing Platform
Order through: Wiz Kids www.wizkids.co.il 09 746 4224
Reviewed by Judy Shapiro
Six-year-old Noam swallowed her voice one midsummer when she saw a rocket crash into the roof of a house in Ashkelon as she was returning home with her mother from day camp.
Speechless tells the inspiring story of a young Israeli girl’s journey toward recovery from Post Traumatic Syndrome which left her mute. The story illustrates the power and beauty of loving kindness (chesed) not only by caring parents, but also that offered by friends, extended family and community. It teaches the importance of empathy, understanding and the value of different kinds of therapy. Above all, it teaches patience, hope, initiative, courage, acceptance and the possibility of miracles.
There is a saying in Hebrew: ma shelo ya-a-se ha- sechel, ya-a-se ha-zman - what knowledge cannot do, time can accomplish: After four years of being totally speechless, Noam began to talk.
This short book was inspired by the award-winning-author’s volunteer work with Operation Embrace, (OE), an organization which is dedicated to assisting terror victims in Israel. The volunteers sponsor programs and events and bring gifts to the survivors to help them on their path to recovery.
Noam wanted to speak; her lips formed the words, but no sound emerged. Visits from friends, music, creative gifts, an IPad and even an adorable, soft white ‘therapy’ puppy which OE director, Aviva Tessler, brought her didn’t seem to help matters, but they did bring happiness to her life. The students in her class understood what she wanted to say and were her voice. To communicate, Noam pointed to what she wanted. She eventually learned sign language and so did her friends.
For four years Noam did not speak, and then one day, with the added aid of homeopathy, she did. Today she is a creative, smart and curious 11-year-old. Her world once again offers her endless possibilities.
This tenderly written book, sensitively and charmingly illustrated, is meant for children aged 4-10. It can also bring tears to the eyes of the adult who is reading it aloud to his/her children or grandchildren. It is a book for Jewish educators in Israel and in the Diaspora, but it is also a book with a universal message. It makes us more cognizant of the effects that trauma can have on us all.
To learn more about Operation Embrace please refer to the website www.operationembrace.org