Editorial Review

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

Cover: Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue

“This daring adventure set in Colonial America is a welcome addition to the collection of Jewish historical fiction for young readers. Set in New Bedford, Massachusetts, during the 18th century, it tells the story of the religious freedom that Portuguese-Jewish immigrant families found in the New World.

Emanuel’s father is a storekeeper who supplies the whalers who seem to be brave and strong, and whom Emanuel would like to emulate. Emanuel loves listening to Captain Henshaw’s stories of daring and adventure at sea. His father, however, is more cautious, fearful of the open seas and whaling as well as of practicing his Judaism openly. This frustrates Emanuel, leading him to stow away on a whaling ship, hoping to show his father that he is in fact brave and strong.

When a storm overtakes the boat, Emanuel comes to appreciate his father’s fears, thinking, ‘so this is what fear feels like.’ And his father is able to gain perspective about the freedom to practice religion afforded him in his new country. He realizes that “it is not good to be ruled by fear” and boldly encourages all the Jewish families in the town to light the menorah on the eighth day of Hanukkah to guide the distressed ship home.

Akib’s chalk pastel illustrations reflect the tension of the story. Using dark colors to offset the welcome lights at the end, he succeeds in creating an excellent compliment to this tale of courage and freedom.” —The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

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Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue
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