Four Thousand Years of Jewish History: Then and Now is an engaging survey of Jewish history from Abram through the Jewish world today. Factual snippets are written in text boxes making them easy to distinguish and accessible to all. The graphics include cartoon delineations representing the costume and customs of the time being represents. Also included are photographs and artistic representations of the material, including a picture of Michelangelo’s Prophet Isaiah and Rembrandt’s Jewish Bride. There are two crossword puzzles included at the end of each chapter for the reader to review the material read thus far. One inaccuracy is in the map of Israel today which depicts the Golan Heights region as part of Syria (the West Bank and Gaza Strip are depicted as separate entities). Lefcourt depicts the Jewish people in the context of world history and political events. Each time period is depicted by a chapter on the historical element and one on the religious implications. The historical and religious aspects are based on Jewish writings, Biblical as well as historical documents. The information is presented as factual and is as objective as this subject may present itself. Even the religious sentiments are presented factually and with sensitivity to all denominations. The final chapter reviews the events leading up to the Diaspora. An interesting twist is the final question of how many other Jews are out there that were lost to the Diaspora wanderings. Some of the possible sites of the Lost Tribes are presented with cartoon representations. For those looking to become literate in Jewish history this is a absorbing introductory overview, although the lack of an index and list of bibliographic sources is unfortunate. This book is appropriate for youth beginning at age 11, although many adults may benefit from the expanse of information provided.
Drora Arussy, Ed.D., is an educational consultant who specializes in integrating Jewish and secular studies, the arts into education, and creative teaching for excellence in Jewish education. She is the mother to four school-age children and has taught from pre-school through adult. Drora is an adjunct professor of Hebrew language at Drew University.