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October 31, 2003 - Image 43

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-10-31

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Years Running

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Shabbat, but just once a week.
Too Much of a Good Thing is definite-
ly not too much of a good thing when
it comes to books. This is a really silly
story — not funny or endearing, just

Jeremiah's Promise: An Adventure in
Modern Israel. By Kenneth Roseman.
Copyright 2002, published by the
Union of American Hebrew
Congregations (UAHC) Press.
Paperback. 205 pages. $8.95.

The UAHC has published several
books in a Do-It-Yourself series, in
which readers are invited to choose
their own adventures.
Everyone starts off the same, but
readers are offered two paths at the end
of each page, and what they select will
lead them down some very different
and interesting roads.
Jeremiah's Promise is the latest in this
series, and the book allows readers to
imagine their lives in Israel as the state
is being established. Along the way
they will tackle such challenging ques-
tions as conversion, how to best foster
peace and the difficulties of immigra-
tion — in short, everything someone
who actually has made aliyah might
Jeremiah's Promise is wonderfully
written and imagined: No one will get
•bored with it, from the youngest read-
ers (about age 10 is best) to adults. It's
fun having the opportunity to "choose"
your future, though, as in real life, you
often will be surprised by how it turns
Along the way, you'll learn a lot, as
history lessons are woven into the
adventure text, making for very fun
and informative reading.
This UAHC publication advocates
positions advanced by the Reform
movement, especially when it comes to
"Who Is A Jew?" But because it's a
well-written book, and not just a politi-
cal statement, Jeremiah's Promise holds
some great surprises, such as when the
reader's son-in-law decides to become

Forged in Freedom: Shaping the
Jewish-American Experience by
Norman H. Finkelstein. Copyright
2002, Jewish Publication Society of
America. Hardback. 204 pages. $9.

If you like your American Jewish histo-
ry short and sweet, Forged in Freedom
may be just what you need.
This brief book gives the most basic
information about American Jewish

history, accessible to all but written,
basically, for the early teen audience.
Apparently, most of the "shaping" has
occurred in recent memory, since the
vast majority of this book covers the
20th century, with just a handful of
pages covering pre-1900.
It's a little unclear exactly why and
how Finkelstein decided to devote
extensive coverage to some issues
(there's a 17-page chapter, "The
Selection of Joseph Lieberman," which
covers Jews in politics, but certainly
devotes a great deal of attention to its
namesake) and very little to others
(Jonathan Pollard gets a scant para-
graph). The Joe Lieberman chapter also
reveals how quickly these kinds of
books can become outdated: Too late
for publication, but of great interest to,
and perhaps impact on, the Jewish
community is the fact that Lieberman
is today a candidate for president and
many other of the Democratic candi-
dates have Jewish connections, as well.
The writing in Forged in Freedom is
factually accurate, but not exactly fast-
paced reading, much like sitting down
with an easy version of the Encyclopedia
Britannica. The best part is the photo-
graphs, though sensitive readers are cer-
tain to be disturbed by the picture of
Leo Frank hanging from a tree.

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When Pirates Came To Brooklyn by
Phyllis Shalant. Copyright 2002, pub-
lished by Dutton Children's Books.
Hardback. 213 pages. $16.99.

When Pirates Came To Brooklyn is a
story of two girls who find friendship
despite their differences.
The story is told by Lee Bloom, who
is Jewish. She's walking down the street
when Polly Burke, who is Christian,
and her friends ask Lee to play.
Lee herself finds her actions a little
odd — why is she inviting a stranger to
play? But she really wants a best friend,
and for Lee, life is an adventure,
whether its,seeing pirates fly in a ship
that sails the sky or meeting up with a
knight who has curious powers — just
the sort of stories that Polly loves.
Lee and Polly become friends, but
Lee's mother sees Polly's entrance into
her family's life as an opportunity to
evangelize. She begins leaving notes
about Christianity for Polly. Polly hides
the notes, but they are discovered by
the rotten Eddie Wagner, one of Lee's
worst enemies.
The situation only gets worse when
the notes fall into Mrs. Bloom's hands.
Thanks to the power of hope and faith,
however, the girls find that nothing
conquers their friendship. fl


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