The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust
The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust

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Annotation: Presents the story of how Si Kaddour Benghabret, rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, and other Muslims, gave Jews shelter and worked in the resistance to help them escape Nazi persecution during the German occupation of Paris.
Genre: World history
Catalog Number: #37484
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Holiday House
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition Date: 2009
Pages: 40 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8234-2159-7 Perma-Bound: 0-605-25696-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8234-2159-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-25696-5
Dewey: 940.53
LCCN: 2008017209
Dimensions: 25 x 28 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
The book begins with a quote found in Islamic and Jewish traditions: "Save one life, and it is as if you've saved all of humanity." Today's problems between these two Abrahamic religions are obvious, but there are moments of brotherhood. During the Nazi occupation of France, Jews were being rounded up and sent to concentration camps. One avenue of refuge was the Grand Mosque in Paris, where Jewish adults and children hid, some briefly until they could be spirited away, others for longer stays. Thanks to the mosque's rector, and particularly Berbers from Algeria, many lives were saved. This is a fascinating, little-known piece of history (the afterword explains how difficult it was to research). The authors sometimes try too hard to explain too much to a middle-grade audience, but they effectively capture the desperation felt by the victims and the enormous effort made by the resistance. The evocative paintings in somber colors heighten the tension, but some, like the one of a Jewish girl in front of an intricately designed mosque wall, capture the hope.
Horn Book
Strong, clear writing energizes this account of Paris's Grand Mosque serving as sanctuary for Jews fleeing the Nazis. Exquisite oil-paint illustrations display both the beauty of Paris and the stately elegance of the mosque, in addition to the danger faced by Jews and Muslim resistance fighters alike. An afterword gives more details about the historical events. Reading list. Bib., glos., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
Holocaust history includes many instances of righteous individuals who risked their lives to hide or help Jews escape the Nazis' annihilating evil. In occupied southern Paris, the Muslim community, descended from the French colonies of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, centered life around the Grand Mosque, a place of worship, culture, education and even health care. North African Jews living in the city maintained a neighborly relationship with their Muslim brothers, who shared physical attributes and similar cultures. These Jews could easily seek refuge at the Mosque, from which the Parisian Muslims who joined the French Resistance guided them to safety through an underground escape route. Although few documents remain, substantial evidence supports this fascinating and courageous story, notable as an example of the truly respectful and honorable rapport Muslims and Jews, living side by side, enjoyed for centuries. Realistic oil paintings complement the lengthy text, which celebrates a Muslim community whose selfless devotion to justice saved more than 1,000 lives. A must read for today's multicultural curricula. (afterword, glossary, notes, bibliography, index) (Informational picture book. 8-12)
Publishers Weekly

While Ruelle admits in her afterword that “many of the details of this story are destined to remain forever uncertain,” she and DeSaix (who also collaborated on Hidden on the Mountain) have pieced together a fascinating history of how the North African Muslim community of Paris and the Grand Mosque secretly harbored Jews and others after the Nazi invasion (“It was... an oasis hidden behind high walls right in the middle of the city”). The story isn't always easy to follow—it is by necessity episodic—though Ruelle provides ample detail and explanation, and DeSaix's moody oils provide the emotional and narrative ballast. Working mostly in double-page spreads, she masterfully conveys how the compound's serene, exotic interiors offered reassurance during desperate times. In one of the most striking images, a Jewish girl stands solemnly in front of one of the mosque's elaborately tiled walls; it's as if the mosaic's beauty and scale had a talismanic power, capable of warding off an otherwise horrible fate. Ages 8–up. (Sept.)

School Library Journal
Gr 46 The authors of Hidden on the Mountain: Stories of Children Sheltered from the Nazis in Le Chambon (Holiday House, 2007) return to France to uncover a little-known story. While they admit that "many of the details are destined to remain forever uncertain, with few facts proven to a historian's satisfaction," Ruelle and DeSaix feel strongly that the bits and pieces of information that they were able to unearth provide convincing evidence that the Muslims of the Grand Mosque of Paris saved Jewish lives. While the format and appearance of this title are similar to other picture books of rescue and resistance during the Holocaust, such as Carmen Agra Deedy's The Yellow Star (Peachtree, 2000) and Ken Mochizuki's Passage to Freedom (Lee & Low, 1997), the text provides more of a descriptive history of events than a retelling of a story. The oil-paint spreads are luminous and beautiful, but they belie the tone of the writing and the presentation of facts. Regardless, this well-researched book belongs on the shelves of most libraries. Rachel Kamin, North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, IL
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Word Count: 3,794
Reading Level: 7.1
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 7.1 / points: 1.0 / quiz: 133060 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:11.3 / points:4.0 / quiz:Q47354
Lexile: NC1090L

When the Nazis occupied Paris, no Jew was safe from arrest and deportation.

Few Parisians were willing to risk their own lives to help. Yet during that perilous time, many Jews found refuge in an unlikely place--the sprawling complex of the Grand Mosque of Paris. Not just a place of worship but a community center, this hive of activity was an ideal temporary hiding place for escaped prisoners of war and Jews of all ages, especially children.

Beautifully illustrated and thoroughly researched (both authors speak French and conducted first-person interviews and research at archives and libraries), this hopeful, non-fiction book introduces children to a little-known part of history. Perfect for children studying World War II or those seeking a heart-warming, inspiring read that highlights extraordinary heroism across faiths.

Includes a bibliography, a recommended list of books and films, and afterword from the authors that gives more details behind the story.


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