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by Sydney Taylor

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1966
Publisher: Follett

For immigrants to America, the sadness of farewell preceded the joy of arrival and before the Lower East Side came the village in Eastern Europe. Sydney Taylor, who filled the former with laughter and tears in All-of-a-Kind Family, etc., has filled the latter with lechwar and local customs. The slight story begins with a letter from Papa, long-delayed in the United States because of World War I, promising to send for the family as soon as his earnings permit. Ten-year-old Gisella, who cannot remember him, resents his absence and his intention of removing her from the daily round of activities and acquaintances she enjoys. She shares in the communal baking of Passover matzohs; raises silkworms on mulberry leaves; stays up all night to make lechwar, plum pastries; goes to a feather-picking party. But, Gisella is told, life in Europe is hard despite its pleasures and families belong together. At year's end, Papa arranges for their passage, they say good-by to home and friends and sail to America, where they will have "a Papa like everyone else." Only in a few instances--as when Gisella and her sister teach Mama to write her name so she can sign for an exit permit--is the tremendous potential in the situation realized; generally it is a catalogue of customs and celebrations in which the bread gets baked but nothing much happens to anyone. Good butter and eggs, not enough yeast.