Engineer Ari and the Rosh Hashanah Ride

  • Interest Level: Kindergarten - Grade 3
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

A Rosh Hashanah story based on the first historic train ride from Jaffa to Jerusalem in 1892, shortening the journey between the two cities from 3 days to 3 hours. Engineer Ari’s train is coming to Jerusalem collecting goodies along the way to celebrate the Jewish new year, and he learns an important lesson along the way.

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Interest Level Kindergarten - Grade 3
Reading Level Grade 2
Genre Picture Books
Copyright 2008
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2008-08-01
Text Type Fiction—Historical
BISACS JUV017090, JUV033020
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 10.375 x 8.875
ATOS Reading Level 3.7
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 126058
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Awards, Original artwork, and Reviewed

Author: Deborah Bodin Cohen

Rabbi Deborah Bodin Cohen is the author of many award-winning children's books including Papa Jethro and Nachshon Who Was Afraid to Swim. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.

Illustrator: Shahar Kober


  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor, Runner-up, 2008



There are a number of books about the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, but very few are set in Israel. This story is based on the trip of the first train from Jerusalem to Jaffa in 1897, shortening the time between the coast and the city from three days to three hours. Cohen turns this journey into a fanciful account of Engineer Ari, who is proud to have been chosen to drive the train; but his bragging annoys his coworkers. Ari heads past orange groves and palm trees, through wheat fields and around olive trees. Everywhere, he is greeted by happy citizenry who offer nature‘s bounty to him so he can bring it to the holy city. Despite his joy, Ari misses his friends, and by the time he arrives in Jerusalem, he realizes how he‘s hurt them. Since Rosh Hashanah is the time for apologies, Ari eagerly returns to make peace. The text is short, and the art is simple, but it gives a sense of agrarian life in those days of settlement. An author‘s note adds details.

Jewish News Weekly of Northern California

“The author, [a] rabbi and educator, knows her audience well, and the book is appropriately geared for young children. The colorful, expressive pictures by Israeli artist Shahar Kober augment the story — and do justice to the ancient land of Israel and its people.”

School Library Journal

“Cheerful illustrations depict the sights and scenes of Israel with nostalgia and charm…this delightful title [will] also appeal to train-loving children.”

School Library Journal

2—In 1892, Ari is selected to engineer the first train between Jaffa and Jerusalem. Filled with pride, he boasts to his friends and neglects to say goodbye to them before he sets off. As the train stops to collect the neces-sary items to celebrate the Jewish New Year—apples, honey, round challah, and shofars—he is reminded of the true meaning of the holiday. He promises to do teshuvah—"to do better"—when he returns to Jaffa by apologizing for his insensitive behavior. Cheerful illustrations depict the sights and scenes of Israel with nostalgia and charm as mustachioed Ari and his red train pass through the land. An author’s note provides additional information about the history of the first steam train in Israel, along with an archival photo. Libraries looking to expand their Jewish holi-day bookshelf will want to add this delightful title, which will also appeal to train-loving children.