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Hoping to end a cholera epidemic, the Rabbi of Pinsk plans a shvartze chaseneh , "a black wedding," between two orphans in the town cemetery. It is believed that the spirits of their parents and the happiness of a wedding between two lonely people will put an end to the disease. Yiske, the leader of the klezmer band, is not only asked to provide the music, but he must also find a groom for Sheyndl-Rivke. With the input from his horse Fairdy, he determines that one man is too vain and another is too materialistic. But Shmuel Sova, who has admired Sheyndl-Rivke for many years, is the perfect groom. A joyous wedding is celebrated in the cemetery and the cholera epidemic is miraculously ended. Prosmitsky's comical and expressive illustrations complement Strom's tale. A brief author's note and a glossary of Yiddish words are appended. Readers who enjoyed Heidi Smith Hyde's Mendel's Accordion (Lerner, 2007) will appreciate this new klezmer-themed shtetl story.-Rachel Kamin, Des Plaines Public Library, IL
With his village beleaguered by an outbreak of cholera, Pinsk's learned Rabbi Yamferd decides, as legend dictates, to initiate a miracle by officiating at a "black wedding" of two orphans in a cemetery. Yiske and his Klezmer band are summoned to perform, but soon realize the chosen orphaned bride, Sheyndl-Rivke, has yet to be matched with the right orphaned groom. Amid the wedding preparations—dressmaking, cooking and baking—band leader Yiske sets out to interview three prospects: First the miller, Fyvush Fish, whose answers are too vain; next, Sruli Tsigel the carpenter seems too materialistic; finally the poor-but-honest water-carrier, Shmuel, provides responses that are full of heartfelt warmth. Shtetl life is rendered in pastel drawings that add a childlike comic relief to this tale based on an "unusual Jewish custom" meant to distract townsfolk from their troubles. A sense of worthy values is stressed while offering a flavor of the marriage rituals in a nontraditional setting. (Picture book. 5-7)
Posted September 3, 2008
Yiske and his Klezmer Band are invited by Rabbi Yamford to play at a wedding in the town of Pinske. After they arrive, the Band rests while Yiske goes to talk to the Rabbi. He finds out that the town is in the midst of a cholera epidemic. The Rabbi is planning a Shvartze Chaseneh or 'Black Wedding' to help rid the town of cholera since they've tried everything else. If two orphans get married in a cemetery, then a miracle may happen. The Rabbi has a bride picked out, but there's no groom, so Yiske and his faithful horse Fairdy go in search of just the right groom. Did Yiske find one? Were the townspeople too sick to go to the wedding? Did people get 'creeped out' about attending a wedding in a cemetery? You will just have to read this very interesting book to see what happens next! The author supplies a Glossary of Yiddish words at the end of the story as well as an explanation of how 'black weddings' came about. This was a well-written book with great 'voice' for the characters that all had some really fun-sounding names. I really enjoyed the cute illustrations by Jenya Prosmitsky also. I give this book a high-five for keeping the reader interested to the very end, and for teaching all of us about the legend of the black weddings, something I'd never heard of previous to reading this cute book! BY: Gayle Jacobson-Huset Managing Editor Stories for Children MagazineWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.