As a Christian who’s had a lifelong fascination with the Jewish roots of my faith, I’m happy to celebrate the 2016 Passover by reviewing THE PASSOVER SURPRISE by Janet Ruth Heller. This book, written for children, is set during the Passover time, during the era when the Civil Rights movement in the USA was making an imprint on the consciousness of the modern world. While it’s set in a particular culture, during a particular time and place, its message is, in fact, universal.
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Lisa and her younger brother are in competition to see who will win the brand new stamp album. Lisa’s father’s decision to give the album to her younger brother hurts her a lot. But she decides to win her father over to her point of view by learning to understand him better and speaking to him when the time is right. Meanwhile, the family prepares for the Passover Festival with great excitement and joy. This story celebrates positive traditions like family and religlious festivals, while promoting universal values like love, understanding, respect for elders and family. At the same time there’s a firm but gentle insistence that daughters are just as valuable to a family as sons are. A truly delightful read which will resonate with young Jewish readers, while educating non-Jewish readers about the traditions of one of the world’s oldest religious festivals. It’s a short read, but beautifully and simply written.
This book is also highly recommended for people who are interested in learning more about the USA during the Civil Rights struggle.