It is 1897, and the young newlyweds, Anna and Solomon, fear that attacks on Jews by the Czar’s soldiers have made living in Russia too dangerous. They agree they must move to America for a better life. But they only have enough money to book a single passage. Anna convinces Solomon that he must go alone, and when he saves enough for her ticket, she will join him. After months and months of scrimping and saving, he sends for Anna. But when he goes to meet her at the ship, it is her younger brother who disembarks. Solomon is shocked, but understands that Anna could not leave her brother behind. Twice more he sends for Anna. Twice more she sends a family member in her place — her older brother and then her mother. Each time Solomon is more disappointed, but realizes Anna could never be happy if her family is not safe.
First-time author Elaine Snyder’s touching story is reminiscent of how Jacob labored for seven years to win Rachel, and was then disappointed when his bride turned out to be her older sister, Leah. But in this story, Anna chooses to put the welfare of her family before her own wishes — and Solomon realizes it is for the best. Their love for each other makes the long separation endurable and, surrounded by family, they build a new life in America.
This true story of Snyder’s grandparents has been tenderly illustrated by her award-winning son-in-law, Harry Bliss, who is also a cartoonist for The New Yorker. An author’s note provides additional information on the family, as well as a photo of Anna and Solomon with their first child, the author’s mother. Highly recommended for ages 5 – 9.
Susan Kantor was a senior writer/editor for Girl Scouts of the USA, a children’s book editor, and a past judge for the National Jewish Book Awards in the illustrated children’s book category. She is a writer and a docent at the Rubin Museum in New York City, where she leads public and private tours.