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Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue by Heidi…

Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue

by Heidi Smith Hyde

Other authors: Jamel Akib (Illustrator)

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Set in eighteenth-century New Bedford, Massachusetts, this Hanukkah story centers around a family of crypto-Jews - Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity (usually Catholicism), but who secretly maintained their own traditions - and how they came to publicly profess their true faith. The eponymous Emanuel, who admires the whaling captains who frequent his merchant father's shop, and who has never known anything but freedom, presses his Portuguese-born father to publicly display the family's menorah, during the Festival of Lights. His father, used to the secrecy required in Europe, refuses, until Emanuel stows away on Captain Henshaw's ship, and all aboard find themselves in terrible danger. It is only then that he, and the rest of the (secretly) Jewish community of New Bedford relent, using their menorahs to guide the ship home, after a storm knocks out the lighthouse.

Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue touches upon some fascinating themes - issues of religious persecution and freedom, questions of identity and having pride in one's heritage, and notions of bravery, and how we define it - but in the end I was left wanting more. I enjoyed the story, and applaud the message of standing up for what is right, and refusing to live in fear, but I had trouble suspending my disbelief, while reading. The author's brief foreword mentions the community of secretly Jewish merchants who settled in New Bedford, but gives scant details. When did this community declare itself as Jewish? Was it in the eighteenth century, as depicted here? What about religious intolerance in Massachusetts? Of course it would not have compared, in scope or virulence, to that found in Europe, but it was certainly still abroad in the culture. I wish the author had given more historical details, as I was left with many questions... ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 20, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Heidi Smith Hydeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Akib, JamelIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0761366253, Hardcover)

Angry that his father is afraid to kindle the Hanukkah lights, Emanuel stows away on a whaling ship. When a storm overtakes the boat, it is his father’s change of heart and the family menorah that light the way home.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:29 -0400)

Nine-year-old Emanuel stows away aboard a whaling ship until the Hanukkah candles in a window light the way to bring him home.

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