Monday, May 24, 2010

The Grand Mosque of Paris by Karen Gray Ruelle

So I am not the hugest fan of picture books, who knows, maybe when I have children of my own I will develop a deep appreciation for them and the stories they tell, but right now the are just kind of meh. However, I recently read this awesome book because the author, Ruelle, will be attending one of the events I am signed up for at the BEA (wahoo! book expo!) This is one picture book that she be read by everyone (except actually, little children, because there is a ton of text on each page, It's probably better for late elementary school and onward). Ruelle tells the story of a group of Muslims who joined together to provide sanctuary to a large number of Jews in Paris during the Holocaust. They let Jewish people hide in the Mosque and provided escape routes for them to take them to safe places. Additionally, they created false papers for the Jews that could "pass" as Muslim and helped them stay safe too. I had never heard of this story before which surprised me. As a pretty well educated Jewish girl from the suburbs, I was exposed every single year of my public school education to Holocaust studies. Additionally, I read a lot on my own. Now I have heard plenty about the Righteous Gentiles, or the Righteous Among Nations, people (non-Jews) who risked their lives to help Jews stay safe, but I was unfamiliar with this particular story.
There is a lot of discord today between Jews and Muslisms, especially in the Middle East. It makes me sad to read about and witness all the hatred between the two groups that I see frequently. But it gives me hope that it doesn't always have to be like this. History proves that Jews and Muslims (and other people too!) can get along, and if we truly are doomed to repeat the past over and over again, at least this story shows us that's not all bad.