The Promise

  • Review
By – October 23, 2023

Dur­ing World War II, the ris­ing threat of Nazi pow­er begins to encroach on the peace­ful coex­is­tence of two fam­i­lies liv­ing in Moroc­co. Two boys — Jacob, who is Jew­ish, and Has­san, who is Mus­lim — are close friends with sen­si­tive souls. They spend their morn­ings help­ing their fam­i­lies before com­ing togeth­er to play in Jacob’s mag­nif­i­cent fam­i­ly gar­den. Both of their fam­i­lies tell them that a gar­den is a prayer” and also a promise.” Then, one day, Jacob’s fam­i­ly decides to move to Israel, where they feel they will be safer and more secure. Before Jacob leaves, Has­san assures him that he will con­tin­ue to care for the gar­den, because it will always be a promise and a prayer.

The book’s illus­tra­tions are col­or­ful, sen­su­al, and deli­cious. Deli­cious, too, are the men­tions of the treats shared by the neigh­bor­ing fam­i­lies: bimue­los, which are orange hon­ey donuts, and khobz, a spe­cial flat­bread. The inter­ac­tions between the fam­i­lies are mean­ing­ful and mod­el true friendship.

Based on a true sto­ry, The Promise is a dif­fi­cult book to close. The fam­i­lies’ mutu­al respect and close­ness leave us hop­ing that we, too, can cul­ti­vate beau­ti­ful lives and peace­ful days.

Award-win­ning jour­nal­ist and free­lance writer, Helen Weiss Pin­cus, has taught mem­oir writ­ing and cre­ative writ­ing through­out the NY Metro area to senior cit­i­zens and high school stu­dents. Her work has been pub­lished in The New York Times, The Record, The Jew­ish Stan­dard, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. She recent­ly added Bub­by” to her job description.

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