Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Grand Mosque of Paris

The Grand Mosque of Paris

Picture book
These days when powerful politicians stir up prejudice against
Muslims and work hard to keep families in dire peril in their nations
from entering our country by playing the terrorist card Karen Grey
Ruelle's The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued
Jews During the Holocaust is a book whose time has come.
In 1940 Nazi Germans brought their antisemetic, genocidal agenda
to France. Collaborating with the Vichy government, they began
sending Jews (including 11,402 children and babies) to death camps.
Not all French citizens cooperated. In the countryside Jewish
children were hidden in places like convents and farms. In thickly
occuppied Paris, however, the situation was a lot more dire.
Smuggling Jews to safety would require a place of refuge viewed as
above suspicion...
...The Grand Mosque was such a place. Built in 1926 on land
donated by France in gratitude for the 500,000 Muslim solidiers who
had aided France in WWI, it served the spiritual and community needs
of its congregants. During WWII, at serious risk to those who worked
and worshipped there, it became a hub for rescuing Jews and delivering
them to safer locales. The Grand Modque of Paris tells this amazing
and largely forgotten story.
Deborah Durland DeSaix's illustrations are spell binding.
Street scenes starkly show a very scary place and time. Nazi soldiers
march grimly past the Arc de Triomphe. A yellow star wearing woman
tries to shield her baby and young son from a police officer. In
contrast those in and around the mosque are rich in calm and beauty.
The Grand Mosque of Paris is one of the new nonfiction books
useful to children much older than the toddler and preschool set.
Looking at this historical event can give older children and even
adults a fresh way of looking at the dangerous religious prejudices of
our own time.
On a personal note, Penobscot County is experience some pretty strange
weather. We have bright sunshine combined with unseasonable chill.
Still the flowers, including my front yard daffodils, are bursting out
all over and the returning robins are fascinating Joey cat by their
food seeking antics.
A great big shout out goes out to all who work on behalf of persecuted
and endangered minorities.
jules hathaway

Sent from my iPod

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