The Boots that saved Jerusalem
Written by: Nathan & Yael Gover
Illustrated by: Noam Nadav
The story of the Jewish shoemaker and Emir of Jordan was passed down from one generation to the next – from grandfather to grandchild, as did the secret of the squeaking boots, and the love for Jerusalem.
“The past moves within the present” (Zelda)
Stories about people, objects and events are passed down from one generation to the next. They are stored in our memory, join contemporary experiences, and sometimes change over time. Storytelling is a foundation of Jewish tradition. It allows us to tell the history of our People throughout the generations, and keep its heritage intact.
Had it not been for Grandpa’s story, no one would have remembered the gifted shoemaker and his outstanding boots, or the strong friendship he had with the Emir of Jordan.
Which family story continues to resonate with you? Which stories have you heard as children, and which memories have you chosen to pass on to the next generation?
Enjoy reading and discussing this book together!
Proposed Family Activities:
- You may enjoy reading this book together and asking for your child’s opinion – do they think this story really happened? How did the friendship between the shoemaker and the Emir “save” Jerusalem? Perhaps you could choose one elderly friend or member of your family, and suggest that your child interview them about their childhood. The interview can be recorded, drawn or written down, to be kept for posterity.
- This story takes place in Jerusalem at the beginning of the 20th Which characteristics of Jerusalem can you identify in the illustrations? You may want to look for other pictures of Jerusalem from the same period, and compare it to contemporary ones: does Jerusalem still look this way? What about it has remained the same, and what has changed?
- The narrator’s grandfather was a craftsman, a shoemaker. Perhaps you would enjoy discovering the occupations in which your family members engaged in past generations. Is any of the professions passed down from one generation to the next? You may want to create a family tree, and draw a symbol of each family member’s profession alongside their name.
- Many last names provide information about one’s family history. Does your last name hold a clue about an ancestor’s occupation? Or the place from which your family immigrated to Israel? Or any other past family characteristic?
- By squeaking, the boots remind the Emir of the help he received from his friend, the shoemaker. Perhaps you can remember someone who once helped your family. What reminds you of them? Together, you may want to think of ways to make them happy.
- Many past professions are disappearing – milkmen, watchmakers, blacksmiths, streetlamp lighters, etc. Can you think of any other occupations that no longer exist? Perhaps you could imagine together what the world would be like if other professions we now have will no longer be required. Which occupations might come in their stead?