A groundbreaking educational novella set in the times of the Beis Hamikdash has been released serially by Tut Altz Kids over the past few months. Now in its fifth installment, it follows a group of children as they experience the Mitzvah of Hakhel in the times when the Mitzvah was still practiced as prescribed in the Torah, superimposed upon the story of a young boy named Yossi living in modern times. A powerful educational tool, it has earned wide acclaim for inculcating children with a Hakhel mindset and preparing them for Moshiach.
By Zelig Katzman
A fascinating novella series titled Last Act launched several months ago to teach children about the Mitzvah of Hakhel through the prism of Geulah. Set in the times of the Beis Hamikdash, when the Mitzvah of Hakhel was still being observed as prescribed in the Torah, the story is superimposed over the experience of a child living in modern times. This juxtaposition highlights both the similarity and differences between Jewish children then and now, bringing alive the lessons of this Mitzvah as it was practiced then and heightens the anticipation of its readers for the time when this Mitzvah will once again be practiced in the third Beis Hamikdosh
Released by Tut Altz Kids, a branch of Merkos 302’s Moshiach Office, it features an exciting storyline with powerful ideas undergirding the captivating narrative. “Our goal is to underscore the important role children play in bringing about the Geulah, says Mrs. Pessi Stolik, director of Tut Altz Kids, “additionally, we seek to empower children to mark this Hakhel year in a meaningful way and last Act has been a remarkably effective medium to transmit these messages,”
The story vividly illustrates how it must have felt for children making the pilgrimage to Yerushalayim thousands of years ago and the deep impression it left on them.
“Through the power of the imagination, we aspire to recreate the intense awareness of Hashem that is the entire goal of the Mitzvah of Hakhel,” says Rabbi Shlomie Naparstek, director of the Moshiach Office at Merkos 302, “Although we do not currently have that experience, we can still teach children to learn from the lessons of Hakhel inculcating Yiras Shomayim-and encourage them to exert every effort to bring Moshiach, when we once again merit to experience this life-changing event.”
Since its launch during the Kinus Hashluchim this year, it has seen much success in capturing the imagination of its readers and serving as a vital educational tool for both parents and teachers. Mrs. Chani Tenenbaum used it in her sixth-grade classroom at Cheder Chabad of Baltimore and is enthusiastic about the influence she sees it having on her students.
“I liked the idea of encouraging reading while knowing that this novel is being endorsed by a Mosad and is focusing on the Hakhel theme of this year.”
With the help of the book club questions published alongside the story, the class engaged in thought-provoking discussions ranging from the effects of peer pressure to proper decorum in Shul. “We are looking forward to continuing to read the novel and hosting more "book club" sessions!” says Mrs. Tenenbaum.
Geared towards children from the fourth grade and above, this engaging series was authored by Miriam Zaltzman and Feigy Meijers. The series consists of seven installments, with the fifth installment due to be published soon.
To access this series for your children, free of charge, visit www.tutaltz.com/hakhelkids, enter your email in the ‘Subscribe’ box, and the monthly series will automatically be sent to your inbox.
Additionally, hard copies are available for sale in Crown Heights stores and online, to be shipped anywhere within the US. To order visit www.tutalz.com/store.
An excerpt from the newest installment of the story:
The Great Storm
Avner is discovered when his classmates, on a whim, decide to help with the search, but they can’t tell if he’s really okay. While Yossi and Yehuda spend more time together, they begin to respect each other more, but Yossi still wonders: why is Yehuda so sensitive about things relating to his family’s wealth?
In the period of the second Beis Hamikdash, it seems that the Jews of Eretz Yisroel have finally found some level of prosperity with strong houses of Torah learning, a seemingly benevolent, Jewish ruler, and plans for a grand, unifying Hakhel in the beautified, renovated Beis Hamikdash this coming Sukkos. But when politics take center stage, the future of Am Yisroel is at grave risk.
It’s a few weeks later, and the events surrounding Avner’s miraculous return have eased some of the tension in town. Discovering their lost classmate has also brought Yossi and Yehuda closer together, despite all their differences. But even as their friendship seems to be helping Yehuda deal with his past, and Yossi is becoming more outgoing and confident, the two boys embark on an adventure that puts them in real danger…