cover image Hear O Israel: A Story of the Warsaw Ghetto

Hear O Israel: A Story of the Warsaw Ghetto

Terry Walton Treseder. Atheneum Books, $13.95 (41pp) ISBN 978-0-689-31456-8

Treseder's brief, emotionally searing first-person novel calls to mind the simmering power of survivors' accounts. Written in the voice of a Jewish boy, Isaac, the book is suffused with a deeply felt spirituality. In the opening chapter, Isaac reflects on his older brother's bar mitzvah in a Warsaw that daily becomes a more dangerous place for Jews. Most heart-wrenching is Isaac's description of the family's faithful attempt at a Passover celebration--``Instead of an egg, a shank of meat, and bitter herbs, Papa filled the seder plate with a stone, a stick, and a handful of dirt. Papa said we do not need a feast to remember God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt.'' In ``Train Ride,'' Isaac's childhood wish to ride a train someday is cruelly granted as he and his remaining family are herded onto cars for transport. The final chapter, ``Treblinka,'' reaches both the depths of pain and the heights of courage and faith as, facing death, Isaac and his father pray those resonant words ``Hear O Israel: The Lord Our God Is One.'' Bloom's somber black-and-white paintings reinforce the sense of deepening sadness and despair. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)