Lights Out Shabbat

  • Interest Level: Preschool - Grade 2
  • Reading Level: Grade 1

A little boy spends Shabbat with his grandparents in Georgia and gets a snowy surprise.

Format Your Price Add
Available at all major wholesalers and distributors. Save 25% off list price on hardcovers and ebooks when you buy direct! Digital purchases will be accessed on Lerner Digital Bookshelf. An account will be created for you after purchase.
Interest Level Preschool - Grade 2
Reading Level Grade 1
Genre Picture Books
Copyright 2012
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2014-01-01
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV033020, JUV017090
Dewey [E]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.375 x 8.125
ATOS Reading Level 2.8
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 149757
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Reviewed

Author: Sarene Shulimson

Sarene Shulimson loves to celebrate the rare “lights out Shabbat” when it happens in her hometown of Athens, Georgia, where she lives with her husband, three children, three dogs, and a few pet chickens. This is her first children’s book.

Illustrator: Jeffrey Ebbeler

Jeffrey Ebbeler loves the creative potential of storybook art. He gives lectures and demonstrations in schools, colleges, and museums about the process of bringing words to life through pictures. He lives in Cincinnati with his wife and twin daughters. His books include Lights Out Shabbat, Cutting in Line Isn’t Fair and others.


Jewish Book World

“Celebrate Shabbat the Southern way with this charming episodic adventure that underlines the true meaning of this weekly holi­day—family love and devotion. When a young boy goes to visit his grandparents in Atlanta for a sleepover, a surprise snowstorm hits the area, causing a loss of electricity. The festivities go on without the lights and the little boy revels in the Shabbat traditions of lighting the candles and enjoying a specially prepared meal that includes a braided challah, cheese blintzes, and wine. As the weekend continues and the lights still do not go on, the family enjoys quiet time together taking a neighborhood walk, making a snowman, and looking at the stars in the sky. As ‘Papa’ and the young boy recite the blessing of havdalah to mark the closing of a day of rest, the lights blink and mysteriously come back on to begin a new week. Colorful, detailed acrylic illustrations add warmth and humor to this whimsical story. Paired with Many Days, One Shabbat by Fran Manushkin, this would be a great introduction for younger children to the significance of Shab­bat. Recommended for ages 2-8.” —Jewish Book World

Spirituality & Practice

“A young boy is visiting his grandparents for a weekend in Georgia when they are all surprised by a freak snow storm. It begins after they light the Shabbat candles. The electricity in the house goes out but they continue with the meal. As the candles flicker, Grandfather tells stories about his childhood. The boy is so relaxed that he falls asleep dreaming that the snow is ‘a warm fuzzy jacket.’

In the morning, the boy makes a snowman with his grandmother and then they walk around the neighborhood. By the time they return their creation is already melting. His grandfather shows him stars through a telescope. Then he leads them in a blessing over wine to mark the end of the Shabbot: ‘Thank you, O God, for making all things exist.’ And the boy adds, ‘Like snow in Georgia.’ They continue the ritual by smelling spices and lighting a special candle before wishing each other a ‘Shavuah Tov,’ a ‘good week.’

Sarene Shulimson’s wonderful story with illustrations by Jeff Ebbeler beautifully conveys the bounties of the Shabbat experience as lived out by a boy and his grandparents. This cross-generational story of love and religious devotion has been designed for children ages 2 through 8 years. We hope that others will see that this morally rich tale can reach a much broader audience than the most obvious age group and religious tradition.” —Spirituality & Practice

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)

“Our young narrator tells of an unusual snowstorm in Georgia on a Friday night. He is spending the Jewish Sabbath at his grandparents’ when, after they light the Shabbat candles, the lights go out. They eat the delicious Shabbat dinner, ‘But the lights do not come on.’ This is the repeated refrain, as he and his grandparents keep busy despite the lack of electricity. His grandfather tells him stories until he is sleepy. The next day, in the very quiet house, they say a special prayer. Then he and his Nana make snowmen and take a walk. The snowmen melt while he plays in the attic. It gets dark outside, but still no lights. He and his grandpa look at the stars outside through a telescope. They celebrate the end of the Sabbath. When the lights finally come on, it’s a shock. The Sabbath rest is over for the electricity as well as for them. There’s a liveliness to Ebbeler’s slightly stylized portrayal of the family members: a thin old man with glasses, a plump gray-haired woman with lots of energy, and the active narrator observing the various rituals. Double-page scenes depict a comfortable, middle-class house and neighborhood. The scenes are rich with familial love and the Sabbath celebration.” —Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database (CLCD)

AJL Newsletter

“In her first children’s book, Shulimson tells a sweet story about keeping the Sabbath even when the unexpected occurs. When a snowstorm knocks out the power at his grandparents’ house in Georgia soon after the Shabbat candles are lit, a little boy finds that a Sabbath without electricity can be special. Dessert becomes cherry cones made from snow harvested from the yard. The evening is spent snuggling on his grandfather’s lap while listening to family stories. The next day is filled with making a snowman with his grandmother, then going on a walk, taking a nap, playing with old toys in the attic, and, towards evening, searching through a telescope for the three stars which signify the Sabbath’s end. It is only after his grandfather wishes him ‘Shavuah Tov’ that the electricity comes back on with the light fixtures burning, the refrigerator humming, and the television blaring. Ebbeler’s illustrations, done in layered acrylic paints on paper, use subtle reds, oranges, and yellows to capture the warm love the family feels for each other and echo the lights of the burning candles which create a sense of togetherness. A wonderful book to share under any weather conditions.”—Association of Jewish Libraries

School Library Journal

“A rare snowstorm in Georgia knocks out the electricity one Friday night just as Shabbat begins. A boy spends the visit with his grandparents playing in the snow and enjoying their time together. Just after Havdalah (the end of the Jewish Sabbath), the power is restored. ‘It looks like Shabbat is over for the electricity, too,’ says the boy, ‘I guess even the lights needed a Shabbat rest!’ This is a quietly pleasant story, offering a cozy portrayal of intergenerational bonding and traditions being passed along. There seems to be some attempt to build tension by the repetition of the line, ‘But the lights did not come on,’ but the relaxed nature of the tale prevails. There is no big adventure or lesson to be had here, just a slice of contemporary Jewish life, notable for its location, a setting rarely seen in Jewish children’s lit. The casual, slightly gawky paintings reinforce the family’s ordinariness, and the lemon-lime cast that dominates the art adds a sort of Southern juiciness. A solid purchase for Judaica collections, and an additional purchase elsewhere.”—School Library Journal


“Snowfalls are exciting, especially when they are rare, and this bright picture book captures the thrill of an unexpected storm in a small Georgia town, where a young Jewish boy describes how he celebrates Shabbat with his loving grandparents. On Friday night, the storm causes a power outage, and the cheerful doublepage spreads contrast the snow swirling outside with the warm candlelit interiors as Nana prepares a delicious Shabbat dinner. The next morning, there is still no electricity, and Nana says a special prayer, thanking God for keeping the house warm. According to tradition, the family spends the day in leisurely fashion. Walking around the neighborhood, the boy watches snowmen melt and listens to his grandfather’s stories. At night, they look at the stars while the lights remain off, until, finally, all of a sudden, the power comes back. The warm family bonds and the religious ritual are as much fun as the dramatic storm, and so is the boy’s final wry comment: ‘I guess even the lights needed a Shabbat rest.’” —Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“A surprise snow storm and subsequent power outage make this Shabbat even more special for a little boy visiting his Nana and Papa in their Georgia home.

Shabbat candles already lit, the evening meal of challah and blintzes is topped off with cherry snow cones and Papa’s stories of his childhood. And when the power is still out hours later, morning sunshine brings a new day of gratitude and play in the snow before a Shabbat afternoon nap. Darkness once again descends, leading to the traditional havdalah (end of Shabbat rituals) as the power returns, closing out a day of rest and reflection for all. Acrylic strokes create detailed scenes of a Southern climate capped with a chilly snowy dusting, extending the warmth of the story. And despite the visual portrayal of grandparents who seem more Old World than contemporary American in their stereotypically elderly appearance—Nana comfortably chunky with a triple chin and cropped white hair and Papa rail thin with white hair and mustache—it’s an overall convincing image of events and attitudes.

This Shabbat-themed celebration of family love prevailing over a 24-hour period sans electricity smoothly communicates the importance of the weekly observance.” —Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly

“Shulimson’s first children’s book is a sweet story of a boy’s overnight visit to his grandparents’ house. It’s an unusual Friday in Georgia, for the lights go out and it snows. According to the rules of Shabbat, no light may be either turned on or off during the Sabbath, so Papa and Nana perform the routine Shabbat celebration, lighting candles, saying prayers, and spending family time appreciating the snow, the stars, and one another in the dark. Told from the boy’s point of view, the darkened house and the snow are both fun and mysterious, and the familiar rituals he and his grandparents perform together are comforting. Ebbeler’s (April Fool, Phyllis!) illustrations employ rich yellows, greens, and reds, and his casual-seeming strokes underscore the comfortable familial love the characters share. The story captures the essence of Shabbat as a day of rest, of family time, and of giving thanks. When the electricity returns, Papa says, ‘I guess even the lights needed a Shabbat rest.’ The suggestion of suspense about the duration of the blackout and the boy’s grandparents’ calm acceptance of it reminds readers of the mystery of God.” —Publishers Weekly