By Sylvia Rouss with Ambassador Asher Naim
Illustrated by Tamar Blumenfeld
Jacketed Hardcover, 36pp, $17.95
Now a young man in Israel, Yosef remembers his past in Ethiopia, and the dream he had as a child, in which he was given a choice. Should he climb mountains with Gazelle, never belonging anywhere? Hide in the shadows, with Hyena? Or grab hold of Eagle’s wings and be taken far, far away? Yosef chooses the last, along with his family – to fly to Israel, the land of their ancestors – fulfilling their long-held dream.
An author’s note provides background about the Jews of Ethiopia and the 1991 rescue mission, called Operation Solomon, in which 14,000 Ethiopian Jews were flown to Israel.
About the Author
Sylvia Rouss is an award-winning author and early childhood educator who created the popular Sammy Spider books and the Littlest series. She is the author of King David & Akavish the Spider, The Littlest Pair, and A Holiday for Ari Ant. Visit her website at www.sylviarouss.com.
About the Illustrator
Tamar Blumenfeld is an illustrator and comic-book artist, based in Tel Aviv. She teaches illustration and design and is the creator of the well-known Ha’aretz newspaper blog, Street Doodles. This is her first children’s book.
About Apples & Honey Press
Apples & Honey Press brings together the best authors and illustrators from North America and Israel to create memorable stories for children that illuminate the values of family, community, having fun, and being the best we can be.
Reviews for Yosef's Dream
Category: Picture Books
"A dream to return to their Jewish homeland becomes a reality for Ethiopian Jews. As the narrator watches his brother become a bar mitzvah at Jerusalem's Western Wall, he remembers his childhood in Ethiopia and the journey to their homeland, Israel. For generations, Yosef tells readers, Jews in Ethiopia believed that they "were the only Jews left in the world!" In his reminiscence, Yosef leaves his mother and sister to take food to his father and brother working in their fields before heading to school. He falls into a deep hole and cannot climb out. In a folkloric turn, Gazelle comes to him in a dream and promises him mountaintop visions of "far-off places." Hyena then promises meals "of the scraps of others." Finally, Eagle swoops down and promises him a land God gave to the Jews." Preparations are made, and Yosef's family boards the eagle, as foretold in Isaiah (40:31) — only now it is an airplane. An author's note informs readers that in 1991, co-author Naim, the Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia, did in fact organize Operation Solomon, bringing home thousands of Ethiopian Jews. Blumenfeld's colorful illustrations give the dark-skinned people and the animals personality and set the location memorably. Modern Jewish history lives through the moving voice of one participant."
“My people had lived in Ethiopia for thousands of years, but were still seen as strangers, for we were Jewish.” Yosef and his family reside in Ethiopia, part of a historically isolated and repressed Jewish culture. The author fluidly juxtaposes the Ethiopian landscape and heritage alongside their Jewish traditions through rich textual descriptions and beautiful watercolor-inspired illustrations. Later in the story, Yosef becomes trapped in a hole and dreams of talking animals, which each represent different paths for his family to take, and nicely foreshadow their eventual journey with a “soaring eagle”—the plane they eventually take to their new home in Israel. The author’s note at the close of the story ties it all together,
explaining how Ethiopian Jews lived in beleaguered isolation before the Ethiopian government and the Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia came to a groundbreaking agreement allowing scores of Ethiopians to resettle in Israel, which inspired this story. This tale of courage and hope is a beautiful mix of history, religion, culture, and the power of dreams."
"Yosef watches proudly as his younger brother becomes a bar mitzvah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Then he begins to tell the story of how he got to Israel. "It is a long time since we left our small African village. I was just a boy..." Colorful, eye-catching full-page illustrations add to the vivid description of Yosef's childhood. The warmth of family and village life in Ethiopia is conveyed through simple language, adn such details like how he brushes his teeth with a twig will appeal to young listeners. The reader (or listener) will be enchanted by this tale of a young boy who falls into a pit and imagines various animals rescuing him. Gazelle would take him to far-off places, Hyena would hide him in the shadoes, but Eagle offers his wings to fly him to his new home. Yosef's life is soon dramatically changed by the arrival of a mysterious visitor. The visitor turns out to be Mr. Ambassador, who has come all the way from Israel to tell the villagers that they could return to the land God gave to the Jews. Yosef's younger brother is born on the airplane (an "eagle," like the one he had dreamt about) on the way to the promised land. Yosef ends by describing the successful lives that he and his family have made for themselves in Israel. An author's note provides a brief description of the Falasha (Ethiopians of Jewish faith) and the role of Ambassador Naim in bringing about their rescue. This story about Operation Solomon in 1991 is far gentler than another recent picture book, Yuvi's Candy Tree by Lesley Simpson (Kar-Ben, 2011), which tells of a little girl's terrifying journey from Ethiopia to Sudan and then on to Israel through operation Moses. An earlier book by Maxine Rose Schur entitled When I Left My Village (Dial Press, 1996) describes the ordeal of Beta Israel in much greater detail and is appropriate for middle school readers."
- Joyce Levine (retired), former AJL Publications Chair, North Woodmere, NY