Portraits of Jewish American Heroes

Overview

An absorbing, inspiring tour of the 350-year Jewish American adventure.

'From its beginnings, America, founded on religious freedom, has been a land of opportunity for Jews, socially, economically, and spiritually,' writes Rabbi Malka Drucker in introducing twenty compelling individuals who have enriched our country by their achievements. In areas including science, sports, filmmaking, and civil rights, we meet male and female heroes who set an example, made a positive difference, and took a risk to do it. This ...

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Overview

An absorbing, inspiring tour of the 350-year Jewish American adventure.

'From its beginnings, America, founded on religious freedom, has been a land of opportunity for Jews, socially, economically, and spiritually,' writes Rabbi Malka Drucker in introducing twenty compelling individuals who have enriched our country by their achievements. In areas including science, sports, filmmaking, and civil rights, we meet male and female heroes who set an example, made a positive difference, and took a risk to do it. This beautifully produced volume spans three centuries of history, beginning with Haym Solomon and ending with Daniel Pearl. Each individual's likeness, spirit, and contribution are captured in a distinctive and striking color portrait created with a variety of different media.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Profiling 21 Jewish Americans, Drucker (The Family Treasury of Jewish Holidays) comments that although many of her "heroes" were not particularly religious, "their lives reflect the high value that Judaism places on making an unfair world fairer." The author manages to kvell without lapsing into gooeyness, and she's always perceptive, honest and fair. She notes that Golda Meir had a troubled marriage and "always regretted that she hadn't been a better mother to her children"; of Leonard Bernstein, she writes: "A chain smoker, a lover of both women and men, he lived hard and fast." Her subjects and readers might have been better served, however, if Drucker were more consistent in establishing a context for each hero early on (readers learn midway through Henrietta Szold's bio that she was the first president of Hadassah, and not until the end of Abraham Joshua Heschel's do readers see him as a leader). Rosen's (Two Scarlet Songbirds) solemn portraits reflect a modernist aesthetic, but there are enough intriguing departures to give variety to the flow of visuals: a collage of Haym Salomon, built on wood, is reminiscent of Joseph Cornell; Levi Straus gets a denim canvas; and Gloria Steinem becomes a pop art diva. Ages 9-up. (Aug.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

Brief profiles of 20 individuals from Haym Solomon to Daniel Pearl. Famous and lesser-known figures are included, such as Albert Einstein and Rachel Frank, who preached sermons nearly a century before women were accepted as rabbis. While they varied widely in their adherence to Jewish practice, these individuals were (or are) committed to social justice. Accompanying portraits were done in a variety of styles and media in the spirit of the biographees' accomplishments. For instance, the portrait of Levi Strauss, who invented blue jeans, is painted on denim. The one of Emma Lazarus incorporates words from "The New Colossus." The approach is creative and expressive, although potentially confusing for literal-minded young readers. The text is clearly written, but the brevity of each profile necessarily means that details are glossed over and that minimal social or historical context is provided. While the life stories are a little dry, Drucker's admiration for each person comes through loud and clear, and may drive readers to seek out fuller biographies. Back matter extends the book's usefulness as a report starter. A perfect resource for Jewish American Heritage Month in May or Jewish Book Month in November.-Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL

Kirkus Reviews
Profiles of 21 Jewish-Americans begin with colonial Sons of Liberty member Haym Solomon and conclude with martyred journalist Daniel Pearl. Declarative prose reacquaints readers with such familiar figures as Levi Strauss, Steven Spielberg and Houdini and introduces less remembered, if equally significant individuals such as murdered civil-rights activists Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman. Succinct yet complete portraits of early life, education, ambitions and most notable accomplishments are laced with evidence of Judaism's influence in shaping professional and personal lives. With pioneers Bella Abzug and Judith Resnick, Drucker ushers in more modern-day women in traditionally male-dominated positions, such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Rosen's eclectic melange of various media and methods of collage (fabric, woods, applique, needlework) and paints (covering cut papers, scratchboard) complements each representation; for example, Levi Strauss appears on a collage made from painted denim and sewn details. A glossary, bibliographies and a timeline that brings out other figures such as Samuel Gompers and Jonas Salk complete this informative collection. (Collective biography. 10-13)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525477716
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/14/2008
  • Pages: 96
  • Age range: 9 years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 20.00 (h) x 0.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Malka Drucker is a rabbi and the author of many award-winning books for children and adults. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Elizabeth Rosen is an artist and illustrator who divides her time between Manhattan and Woodstock, New York.

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