Illustrated by Elizabeth Rosen
I’ve just finished writing a book for young people about Jewish American heroes. I can’t imagine a better time for such a book. Heroes are in short supply and Jews can use all that they can claim. Children need help in learning the difference between heroism and fame, and between celebrity and greatness.-Malka Drucker
Dutton Children’s Books
96 pages 8 x 10″
Kirkus Review-“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 mélange of various media and methods of collage (fabric, woods, appliqué, 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.”
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.’ …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.”
Booklist Online – Top 10 Religion Books for Youth: 2008.
2009 New Mexico Book Awards – Winner, Juvenile Book (grade school to junior high school)
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Ruth Bader Ginzburg
A note from the author
I’ve just finished writing a book for young people about Jewish American heroes. I can’t imagine a better time for such a book. Heroes are in short supply and Jews can use all that they can claim. Children need help in learning the difference between heroism and fame, and between celebrity and greatness.
For 350 years Jews have enjoyed remarkable opportunity in shaping American culture. This country, founded on religious freedom, has offered us social and political freedom as well. American Jews have enriched music, entertainment, art, politics, science, sports, education, and business. Many of them have been passionate about social justice.
Of the twenty I chose to profile, most were not religious but lived lives that reflected the Jewish value of making an unfair world fairer. I looked for individuals who had the courage to speak the truth when it was unwelcome and those who risked ridicule by doing something new to make the world better. They set examples of excellence and they worked not only for themselves but also for others.
For most Jewish Americans, the story begins with immigration-their own, their parents, or grandparents. Despite their varying connections to Judaism and the Jewish people, those about whom I wrote were proud to be Jews. Most came from poor families, experienced subtle and not so subtle anti-semitism, and women bore the extra burden of gender prejudice. Despite these challenges, they were heroes who not only honored themselves in their achievements, they were people in whom we take special pride as being part of the eternal family of Israel.
Many of you helped me to choose my subjects and the criteria for selection. My father asked if he were among the 20. He is always at the top of my list for his abiding presence, his cheerful, welcoming nature, his wisdom, and his support. I didn’t include you, Dad, not because you’re any less than these heroes but because I didn’t want to brag about my good taste in choosing you to be my father. You’re the best!