The Adventures of Yadel the Dreidel: Book One: The Rise of the Zealots
Andy Lazris beautifully recounts Jewish history in an engaging, humorous manner through his novel, The Adventures of Yadel the Dreidel, Book One: The Rise of The Zealots. Lazris explains that he created the fictitious character Yadel and his adventures as a way to tell his children of Jewish history and tradition. Yadel, an immortal man, travels the world in his spinning dreidel. Similar to Santa Claus, Yadel brings Jewish children games, chocolates, songs, dances, and dines with families, teaching them the importance of Hanukkah. Yadel feels that Hanukkah, a holiday created by him and the woman he loves, reminds the Jewish people of their inner light. Although the Jewish people have suffered innumerably throughout history, even in the darkest of times, the light from within never is extinguished, providing hope and trust in God for a better future. Yadel’s purpose is to bring the message of Hanukkah to all the scattered Jewish peoples, remind them of the dangers of zealotry and the radical extremists of the past, and rekindle the message of universal love.
Yadel’s story of how Hanukkah came to be, takes the reader throughout the entirety of Jewish history. Being immortal, Yadel starts from the present Covid-19 pandemic and voyages back to Rome AD 65 where we are introduced to Simon and Clausius, two paramount characters. As the reader will learn, Simon is a very devout, strict, and pious Jew. Clausius, on the other hand, is the polar opposite; dabbling in a variety of faiths, from atheism to Christianity, his infectious jovial nature made me smile as I read these pages. Yadel falls somewhere in between these two men; devout, yet open for a modern interpretation of the Torah’s message, these three friends allow the reader to see faith from a variety of perspectives. I enjoyed Lazris’ banter between these characters; much adventure is in store for all three, and I thought the viewpoint from each of them was fascinating.
The reader follows Yadel from Rome all the way to AD 81, where the continuation of the story lies within book two of Yadel’s tale. Yadel humorously describes Jewish history under the ruling of various Roman emperors, Christian monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, and so much more. He focuses much on the rise of Jewish zealots who he states tear their people apart, and how these communities were built back together after destruction and terror. Yadel also focuses on what he believes the true message of the Torah to be: love your neighbor as yourself.
Overall, any reader, young or old, who likes history would enjoy this book and Yadel’s travel throughout time.
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