This unusual Passover book is a work of historical fiction, based on research conducted by the author about a group of Jewish soldiers in the 23rd Ohio Regiment of the Union Army during the Civil War. The characters and events are based on an actual soldier’s diary entry. The soldiers are keenly aware of the similarities between the Exodus and what they were trying to accomplish— defending their country and freeing the slaves. The author even added African Americans to her imagined Seder, to acknowledge their impact on the outcome of the war. None of the soldiers had ever prepared for a Seder before, since that was the job of their mothers and sisters. The book explains how they did their best with what they had. This section of the book reaps the benefits of the author’s extensive research, and does a remarkable job of making the experience come alive for the reader. The painted illustrations add just the right amount of drama to the story. The soldiers knew that they could not make the Seder perfect and instead focused on the greater meaning and symbolism of the Seder. As the author pointed out, that night was “certainly different from all other nights and from all other seders.” Ages 7 – 12.
Rachel Rosner is the Director of the Jewish Book Festival in Rochester, NY. She also runs Jewish Family Programs for the JCC, and has worked there since 1994. She holds a degree in Early Childhood Education from Syracuse University.