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ELI REMEMBERS by Ruth Vander Zee


by Ruth Vander Zee and Marian Sneider & illustrated by Bill Farnsworth

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5309-7
Publisher: Eerdmans

On each Rosh Hashanah eve, Eli watches his great-grandmother light seven memorial candles, say a prayer and shed a tear over the blessing. Year after year, Eli observes, while not comprehending the sadness his family feels on what should be a happy celebration of the incoming Jewish New Year. His mother and father only tell him “some things are too difficult to talk about.” Following the death of both great-grandparents, Eli takes a trip with his family to Lithuania, the homeland of his ancestors. There they visit the Ponar Forest where a massive gravesite exists for the 100,000 Jews and others who were executed by the Nazi’s during the war. Eli’s introduction to his family’s brutal demise is shocking, yet he quickly understands that it is his turn to remember along with the importance of passing down the stark facts to each succeeding generation. As survivors and the only real witnesses to the Holocaust begin to pass on, educating the young to remember the harsh events of history in order to prevent future genocide is one way to avoid future ambivalence and denial. Although brief, this is a sad, dark, candid look at a boy’s family history coupled with Farnsworth’s equally gloomy blue/gray paintings that evoke a feeling of extreme loss and mourning. While its message is universally significant, its use will be most effective in introductory Holocaust discussions and curriculum. (Picture book. 12-15)