Books by Yale Strom

Released: Aug. 1, 2008

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. (Picture book. 5-7)Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 31, 1993

The author of A Tree Still Stands: Jewish Youth in Eastern Europe Today (1990) considers the Rom (gypsies) in similar format: their past, present status, and the lingering scars of the Holocaust (hundreds of thousands lost their lives to the Nazis); abundant candid photos, both b&w and in color; and extensive quotes from Rom of all ages in four countries: Romania, Hungary, Ukraine, Sweden. Meanwhile, in sidebars of smaller type, Strom describes his encounters with Rom who generously took him in, confided their aspirations and troubles, and shared meals and music (Strom, who's also a musician, travels with a violin). A suspect, outcast people for all of their hundreds of years in Europe, the Rom are (at the moment) most numerous in Romania, best treated in Sweden. The very strategies helping them survive persecution have often fed prejudices against them. Skillfully, Strom presents the rich diversity of their culture in their own thoughtful words (apparently he's multilingual, as are many of them; it would have been interesting to know in what languages his interviews were conducted); his portraits—in words and telling photos—are especially notable for the immediacy with which they portray the gypsies' individuality, warmth, and courage. Maps; six songs, with music; bibliography; index. (Nonfiction. 10+) Read full book review >