Born in Montreal in 1925, Jacob “Jack” Shtull loved stories and sports, including skiing, ice skating and swimming, but from an early age, he dreamed of being a rabbi. He was ordained in 1953, served for nearly 50 years and was president of the Cleveland Board of Rabbis. In her debut work, Shtull recalls her father’s legacy, often framing the story in terms of problem-solving. For example, Jack “loved being a student, but sometimes he felt lonely. He wanted a good friend. Where could he meet that special person?” At a dance, it turns out, which is where Jack met Rita, the author’s mother. Elsewhere, on the birth of their third child, Jack wonders: “Where would the baby sleep?” Rita tells him not to worry—“The baby slept in a drawer!” And the sauna also solves a problem, giving Jack a place to practice his clarinet as loudly as he liked. With her question-and-answer structure and bouncy passages, Shtull evokes a nice sense of storybook rhythm: “Jack walked when it was hot, and he walked when it was cold. He walked when it rained. He walked when it snowed. Jack walked in the morning, and he walked at night.” Her stories about Jack demonstrate his many good qualities, such as his charity and thoughtfulness, and his well-rounded personality; he loved music, sports, teaching, children and dancing. Though of special interest to Shtull’s family, unrelated children are likely to enjoy Jack’s company and his example of a well-lived life as told in these simply illustrated, colorful pages.
A warm, humorous remembrance.