Editorial Review

Kirkus Reviews

Cover: The Wedding That Saved a Town

With his village beleaguered by an outbreak of cholera, Pinsk’s learned Rabbi Yamferd decides, as legend dictates, to initiate a miracle by officiating at a “black wedding” of two orphans in a cemetery. Yiske and his Klezmer band are summoned to perform, but soon realize the chosen orphaned bride, Sheyndl-Rivke, has yet to be matched with the right orphaned groom. Amid the wedding preparations—dressmaking, cooking and baking—band leader Yiske sets out to interview three prospects: First the miller, Fyvush Fish, whose answers are too vain; next, Sruli Tsigel the carpenter seems too materialistic; finally the poor-but-honest water-carrier, Shmuel, provides responses that are full of heartfelt warmth. Shtetl life is rendered in pastel drawings that add a childlike comic relief to this tale based on an “unusual Jewish custom” meant to distract townsfolk from their troubles. A sense of worthy values is stressed while offering a flavor of the marriage rituals in a nontraditional setting.

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