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Review of WONDERS AND MIRACLES by Eric A. Kimmel

by Andrea L. Williams

Kimmel, Eric A. 2004. WONDERS AND MIRACLES: A PASSOVER COMPANION. New York: Scholastic Press. ISBN 0439071755

This work is indeed a companion suitable for older children as well as young adults who want to understand why Passover is celebrated and why certain rituals take place. This book is a wonderful compilation of stories, illustrations, poems and commentary about a holiday that many non Jews may reduce to being the equivalent or comparable to Christmas but which is entirely different. The book's text is presented in the order that a traditional seder takes place. Past the table of contents, the page facing it is a verse from Exodus: "It shall be that when you come to the land that God has promised, you shall serve this service . . ." Each section typically has a full color reproduced illustration taken from various times in history which depicts some aspect of Passover. While the text and language used presumes a high level of reading ability, the book can be dipped into with concentration on the stories, and the text that most fills individual interests.

On a basic level there is a one page listing of the fourteen parts of the Seder meal that is a part of the Passover celebration followed by a description of the items of food which traditionally are on the "menu." This counterpoises a few pages which take up Jewish mysticism or Soviet Jewry in the 1960s. These varied levels are recognitions from the author that there can be no sane way one book can cover so much material so the author attempts to present the most visually interesting and the most thoughtful stories rather than to present watered down material. In short this one book revels in the Passover as liberation which makes the resulting book both spiritually enriching but also socially thoughtful. The bibliography lists the most useful sources in the book's creation. Some of them are targeted for juveniles while others are not. That leveling is not made clear strictly through looking at the list. The index appears to include most major terms or concepts which are covered in the text itself. Matzel Tov indeed for such an outstanding creation.

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