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When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street

by Elsa Okon Rael

Other authors: Marjorie Priceman (Illustrator)

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1124225,048 (4.25)4
While staying with her grandparents in New York City in the mid-1930s, eight-year-old Zeesie joins in the celebration of Simchat Torah and sees a different side of her stern grandfather.

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This story is about a young girl who they call Zeesie. Zeesie is Jewish, and in the book they use a lot of Yiddish terminology. Good thing there was a glossary in the back of the book because it was kind of difficult to read with out knowing these specific words. Zeesie enjoys spending time with her grand-mother however, her grand-father is a bit more stern and they don't have a very good relationship. Zeesie's mother is pregnant and her mother has to go to the hospital. Her parents drop her off at her grand-parents home. Her grand-father questions her about the holiday which is going on, and Zeesie isn't quite sure what it was. So her grand-father tells her the Jewish people are celebrating, "Simchas Torah". Her grand-father invites young Zeesie to go to the celebration in the synagogue. While Zeesie is there is sparks an interest in the Torah. She asks her grand-father about the Torah and why it is important. Zeesie thinks her grand-father is going to scold her but instead he kisses her. He is very excited that she is interested in the Torah. They continue their celebration and dance all along in the streets of Eldridge. This book to me personally was very confusing on the first read, I would highly recommend using the glossary in the back of the book. Also, this book tends to be more on the religious side, which is great for introducing new religions or reinforcing them. Also, I think this would be a great book for children who don't have the best relationship with their grand-parents to read this book. The theme of this book was hard to pin down, but I think it has to do with forming relationships. ( )
  Sleco | Sep 28, 2015 |
"Zeesie wasn't really happy about the visit to her grandparents," begins this engaging family story from Elsa Okon Rael, which won the 1997 Sydney Taylor Book Award (given by the Association of Jewish Libraries, in order to recognize "quality Judaic literature") in the 'Younger Readers' category. Dispatched to Bubbeh Ruchel and Zayde Avrum's apartment, when her mother must go to the hospital to have a baby, Zeesie is at first as intimidated as always by her stern Zayde (grandfather), accepting his invitation to join him at shul only with great reluctance. Imagine her surprise when, having arrived at the beautiful Eldridge Street Synagogue, she sees the normally scowling Zayde smiling and dancing, and enjoying the celebration of Simchas Torah! Equally surprising is his positive reaction, when she questions him about to the meaning of the celebration...

An excellent introduction to the celebration of Simchas Torah - the day in the Jewish calendar on which the year-long public reading of the Torah is concluded, and which marks the beginning of another year's cycle of reading - which I have not seen extensively discussed in children's books (actually, I haven't seen it discussed at all, but then, I haven't been looking for it either), When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street is also a sensitive family story, one which explores the sometimes difficult relationship between the generations. Anyone who has had a formidable grandparent will recognize and identify with Zeesie's anxiety, and will rejoice in the rapport that she builds with Zaydeh, by showing an interest in Jewish traditions. I really appreciated the fact that, although heartwarming, this is not an unrealistically 'sweet' story - Zaydeh is a genuinely grouchy old man, with little patience for young people, and that doesn't seem likely to change. On the other hand, despite Zeesie's fears, he's clearly not an ogre, and it's very satisfying to see this reality becoming apparent to her. Highly recommended, to anyone looking for Simchas Torah stories for younger readers, or for stories involving the grandparent-grandchild relationship. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 14, 2013 |
NO OF PAGES: 32 SUB CAT I: Children's Resources SUB CAT II: Feasts/Festivals SUB CAT III: DESCRIPTION: Zeesie is not really happy about going to stay with her grandparents, Bubbeh and Zaydeh. But on this magical night Zeesie joins Zaydeh for a special Simchat Torah celebration at the synagogue on Eldridge Street. What a night!NOTES: SUBTITLE:
  BeitHallel | Feb 18, 2011 |
While staying with her grandparents in New York City in the mid-1930's, eight-year-old Zeesie joins in the celebration of Simchat Torah and sees a different side of her stern grandfather. ( )
  STBA | Oct 19, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elsa Okon Raelprimary authorall editionscalculated
Priceman, MarjorieIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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While staying with her grandparents in New York City in the mid-1930s, eight-year-old Zeesie joins in the celebration of Simchat Torah and sees a different side of her stern grandfather.

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