Rivka's First Thanksgiving by Elsa Okon Rael

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More than anything, Rivka wants to celebrate Thanksgiving. She has learned all about the holiday in school and knows her family has a lot to be thankful for in America. But Rivka's parents are Jewish immigrants from Poland, and they wonder what Pilgrims and Indians have to do with them. Is Thanksgiving really a holiday for Jews?

Rivka's grandmother, Bubbeh, decides to take over: She will bring Rivka to see the Rabbi Yoshe Preminger -- and whatever the Rabbi concludes, Rivka will have to live with. Rivka knows that Thanksgiving is a holiday for all Americans, from all backgrounds and religions. But how can she convince the esteemed Rabbi Preminger?

Elsa Okon Rael and Maryann Kovalski bring the bustling Lower East Side to life in this heartwarming story. Set in the 1910s, Rivka's First Thanksgiving is about respecting old traditions while embracing new ones, about giving thanks and celebrating freedom in America. Perhaps most important, Rivka's story teaches us that even the wisest adults have something to learn from children.


About Elsa Okon Rael

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Elsa Okon Rael has written several children's books based on her own childhood experiences growing up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. What Zeesie Saw on Delancy Street, illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, was an ALA Notable Children's Book, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon, and a Hungry Mind Children's Book of Distinction. Its sequel, When Zaydeh Danced on Eldridge Street, won the prestigious Sydney Taylor Book Award. Like the young heroine in Rivka's First Thanksgiving, Ms. Rael first learned about the holiday of Thanksgiving in public school -- and she, too, had to convince her immigrant parents to celebrate Thanksgiving at home.
Published January 1, 2001 by Aladdin. 30 pages
Genres: Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Determinedly and with a show of the special brand of chutzpah given only to children, Rivka writes the rabbi a letter that begins: “My Bubbeh believes you are the wisest man in the whole world, but I cannot agree with her.” The rabbi ultimately gives his blessing to Rivka’s argument and is invite...

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Publishers Weekly

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After learning about Thanksgiving in school in the 1910s, nine-year-old Rivka succeeds in persuading her immigrant family and her rabbi that it is a holiday for all Americans—even Jewish families.

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