Based on the true story of a remarkable man named Al Rosen, The Christmas Mitvzah will leave the reader with a warm, gratifying feeling and a desire to find people in need of help who they can assist in ways large and small.
Al realized one crisp December that many people had to work on Christmas, and he resolved to send them home to celebrate with their families while he volunteered to take over their jobs for the day. Over the years, Al spent December 25th selling newspapers, shining shoes, pumping gas, tending bar, and filling a variety of other roles so that others could celebrate their holidays at home along with their families. He included members of his own family in this unique and important mitzvah, imparting to them along the way the joy in helping others. Al continued to give of himself in this special way until he was eighty years old. His generosity and love were appreciated by those he helped, who showed their gratitude, in return, by helping him when he could no longer assist them and by celebrating Hanukkah with him and his family.
This story, filled with the inherent beauty of its subject, is enhanced further by evocative illustrations that convey the feeling of warmth and care personified by Al Rosen’s life. The illustrations are filled with bright, happy colors, sparkling facial expressions, and touches of gentle humor throughout. The optimism of the story is reflected in the art.
An author’s note tells more about Al and his life and refers the reader to a website where further information can be found. It also explains the holiday of Hanukkah, noting its calendar proximity to Christmas, and includes, as well, a link to a website where readers can learn more about Hanukkah and its customs.
Michal Hoschander Malen is the editor of Jewish Book Council’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A former librarian, she has lectured on topics relating to literacy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.