NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — At the C. Waldo Scott Center in Newport News, Candace Bazemore reads her book from cover to cover to children.
“Who here likes to learn about cultures? Raise your hands,” Bazemore said before beginning her read.
In April, Candace, and Gabrielle Spatt published their children’s book, Shabbat and Sunday Dinner.
“It’s really cool. It’s a Black Christian boy and a young Jewish kid and they’re basically sharing their family dinner traditions,” Candace said.
“The book follows these two sweet boys through their elementary presentations about teaching their family traditions. And the traditions are based on my family tradition and Candace’s family traditions,” Spatt said.
The two characters are David and Malcolm.
David celebrates Shabbat and Malcolm celebrates Sunday dinner.
“In Judaism, every week we celebrate Shabbat. Some people say it’s the holiest holiday because it happens every week,” Spatt said. “It’s a commandment to stop, to disconnect, to forget about the week in the past, to welcome a start to a fresh new week, and to be with those that you want to spend time with.”
The book includes the Shabbat ritual and traditional foods that people who celebrate Shabbat may prepare.
Eric Bazemore, Candace’s brother illustrated the book. He said he reflected on his childhood memories when portraying Sunday dinner in the book.
“For Sunday dinners when I was growing up, I just remember all the good foods that my grandmama used to cook,” He said. “My grandmama used to make excellent mashed potatoes, the greens, sweet potato pie.”
The book also includes a recipe for challah and deep-fried cornbread.
Candace lives in Newport News but formally lived in Atlanta where she met Spatt. The two authors and friends learned they were both members of Atlanta’s Black/Jewish Coalition.
The coalition was founded in 1982. The late Congressman John Lewis co-founded the organization.
Spatt said the group was created to bring the Black and Jewish communities together. She said she and Candace participated in a retweet with other Black and Jewish people to learn about each other’s cultures, build friendships and discuss tough topics.
“This is an outcome of an experience that Candace and I had where we got to learn more about racism and more about antisemitism and one of the pictures in the book is we have a page dedicated to Black Jewish relations is of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rabbi Heschel walking hand in hand,” Spatt said.
The duo came up with the idea for a book at the end of 2020.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta awarded the authors a $2,000 grant to help self-publish the book.
“We want to encourage those who read the book to continue those conversations, to ask the difficult questions and we hope that in doing so, it will help them start new relations with the person that’s across the dinner table from them,” Candace said.
“It’s really about making friends about breaking bread, and that’s where the really special conversations happen, around the dinner table,” Spatt said.
Although “Shabbat and Sunday Dinner” is a children’s book, they hope adults learn the message that’s inside it.
Demetrius Farr, a 9-year-old, who listened to Candace read the book, shared with 10 On Your Side his takeaways.
“You can share your cultures and people will respect you, and want to learn your cultures because you like their cultures,” he said.
Click here to learn more about the book.