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The Birth of the Jewish People

by Neil Waldman & illustrated by Neil Waldman

Age Range: 11 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-56397-332-4
Publisher: Boyds Mills

Waldman (Too Young For Yiddish, p. 106, etc) begins by asking why of all the ancient cultures and religions of the Mediterranean only the Jews have survived. His answer is that the promise of the land, Eretz Yisrael, which God made to Abraham, has sustained the Jewish people through Diaspora and the many calamities they have suffered. Retelling the story of the Covenant, the sojourn in Egypt, and the Exodus is central to Jewish observance. Waldman relates these stories and emphasizes their role in keeping the Jewish religion alive. While there are additional reasons for the long-term survival of the Jews, prohibitions against intermarriage, for example, this focuses on the role of place in Jewish belief. For the most part, it is a straightforward account that sticks to Biblical sources, except when the author allows himself artistic license for statements like “Moses smiled deeply” when he gazed for the first time across the Jordan valley to the Promised Land. Waldman employs his characteristically muted palette of browns and golds to depict the Israelites. Heavy on text and not likely to appeal to a younger crowd. (Picture book. 11+)