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Four Thousand Years of Jewish History: Then and Now

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Four Thousand Years of Jewish History

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Four Thousand Years of Jewish History
Then and Now
Text and Graphics by Jack Lefcourt
KTAV Publishing House, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-60280-132-5

Reviewed by Boris Segel - January 18, 2010

Using a broad brush, Jack Lefcourt ably covers four thousands years of Jewish history in just over one hundred pages! He does this in Four Thousand Years of Jewish History: Then and Now, an engaging text that details the key moments, ideas, and themes of Jewish history and culture. The information in presented primarily in chronological order, starting with Abraham and the answer to the question, " When did it all begin..." and takes the read up to the modern day. Along the way, the text is enhanced by a combination of lively illustrations, photographs, and maps, as well as handful of extras including two crossword puzzles and a timeline activity where you get to fill in a timeline chart. Answers to these activities are provided.

While readers of all ages will be entranced by this book, it is definitely geared toward younger readers. To that end, it is written in a semi-comic book format. By this I mean that the information is broken up into boxes. In most cases, there are three 'informational' boxes per page along with related illustrations, although some pages have more boxes. Within these boxes, Lefcourt details intriguing tidbits of Jewish history, explores major themes, provides brief biographies of major figures in Jewish history, or provides a quote relevant to the topic under discussion.

Some of the topics covered in this lively book included Jewish history from Moses to Saul, the importance of the Written Law, the development of the Talmud, the Fall of the Roman Empire, the various periods of the middle ages, the beginnings of Zionism, American Judaism, the Holocaust, and the Modern State of Israel. Lefcourt also provides an interesting section looking at where the ten lost tribes might have gone, and the legacy they might have left behind in lands as far flung as Japan, and how in the modern day, Jews can be found in almost every land in the world, and how our ancient traditions help to bind all Jews together, no matter where they live, what language they speak, or what they look like.

Four Thousand Years of Jewish History: Then and Now is a fun book to read that be used as a read-out-loud book for pre-readers and as a history textbook for younger students. It is also a perfect read-alone book for grade-schoolers who are interested in learning about Jewish history, and in discovering the various cultural, religious, and historical struggles and triumphs that have helped to shape Jewish history. This book will also introduce them to some of the key personalities that have contributed to the totality of the Jewish experience.

This book will make an ideal gift for inquisitive youngsters, and for reluctant readers who will be attracted to the book due to its vibrant illustrations and bite-sized text portions. Well illustrated and filled with a lively and engaging text, Four Thousand Years of Jewish History: Then and Now will make an exemplary addition to any public or private library.

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