A book review for parents
This fourth historical book in the "Zion Covenant" series by Bodie and Brock Thoene is published by Tyndale House Publishers and is written for adults but is sometimes studied by kids ages 16 and up.
In 1938, Hitler's plan to annihilate all Jews extends to Israel and all of Europe. Letters sent from Leah Feldstein to her musician friend, Elisa, are pieced together to reveal the pre-World War II plights of several European Jewish families. Leah and her husband, Shimon, both Messianic Jews, flee Germany for Israel only to land in a refugee camp. There, Leah befriends a young woman named Victoria.
A bomb set off by Victoria's Muslim half-brothers injures Leah. Victoria falls in love with Eli, a Jewish rabbi student, and they secretly marry. Lies and deceit end in false accusations by Victoria's family and other militant Muslims that Eli raped Victoria. Victoria's brother and the Muslim leader Mufti Haj Amin stir up a Muslim crowd into believing a dead body is Victoria. Rumors of Victoria's death bring Eli out into the open where Eli's brother leads the Muslim mob in killing him.
Meanwhile, Elisa and her husband flee to England where her father, Theo Lindham, resides. Theo, a former German department store owner, Messianic Jew and sole survivor of the Dachau prison, is tricked into returning to Germany for a meeting that promises relief for Jewish refugees. The Germans plot to kill Theo but allow him to escape in an effort to send a strong message to England that Jews will suffer death. During his visit, Theo angers Field Commander Göring, second in command to the fuehrer, when he reads a poem from a collection Göring had confiscated years earlier from Theo. Goring orders the books to be burned. The bonfire sparks Kristalnacht (the night of broken glass).
Other subplots include a Polish family's struggle with attempted rape, bribes and false arrests and a young Jewish boy in France hidden by a Nazi and driven mad enough to commit a murder that moves Hitler's plans forward.
Leah and her husband, Shimon, explain to Eli how Jesus is the Messiah. They also say that some people follow a false Christ and use his name to justify persecuting Jews. Eli then studies the Torah and writings of the prophets and chooses to follow Jesus.
Hitler, Muslim Grand Mufti Haj Amin, Hans Schumann and Ibrahim are evil leaders who wield their authority to destroy Jews with lies, deceit and violence. Dr. Letzno counsels a Polish woman and helps with a police investigation when Leah is injured. Theo trusts God and leads his family in wise choices. Rabbi Lebowitz struggles against the violence and changing atmosphere in Israel. He continues to hold services and follow his faith. Polish police use bribery and false witnesses to oppress Jews while Israeli police seek truth and work to help their citizens.
Other Belief Systems
Hitler's allegiance to the false idol Wotan, god of creation and destruction, fuels his belief that he can create a super race. A painting of the god closely resembles Hitler. Militant Muslim beliefs reveal hatred and the desire to annihilate Jews. Jewish family life centers around Shabbot and Jewish customs. Rabbi Lebowitz often pauses to pray.
In Israel, several violent scenes take place: street riots, a bombing, gun fire, a fight with daggers and a hot fire poker and Eli's death at the hands of a Muslim street mob. In Poland, the police storm a synagogue, club many men, drag out the rabbi and imprison him. In Germany 12,000 Jews are rounded up and crammed into cattle cars to deport them to Poland while Germans spit on them and throw sacks of excrement on them. As the Jews exit the trains at the border, attack dogs chase and bite them, and soldiers shoot, whip and beat the Jews. A Nazi traitor is caught and tortured. In France, a Nazi masquerades as a Jew and slowly drives a young German Jew mad. The lad recalls Hitler Youths filling mouths of Jews with excrement, causing vomiting and then beating them. Herschel ends up shooting the German Nazi traitor Von Rath at close range. Throughout the book, enemies of Jews use derogatory words to taunt the Jews, calling them filthy pigs and vermin.
Scenes include married couples Elisa and Murphy, as well as Shimon and Leah, in bed snuggling, kissing and talking about pregnancies. Leah miscarries as a result of a bombing. Etta's and Aaron's desire for each other is evident. He takes a day off from work to spend in bed with her, quoting the Song of Songs about being lovesick. Eli desires Victoria, and they share kisses. On their wedding night, Victoria asks Eli to touch her. Muslim businessman Kadar notices Victoria's body and arranges a marriage contract for her to be his first wife. Etta's daughter, Rachel, has an arranged marriage to a boy she has never met, and she wonders about him. Rachel notices her own budding breasts. There is a description of Etta giving birth to her third child. Etta leaves the Jewish community to get passport photos and is surrounded by Catholic men who torment her, pull up her dress, lift her in the air and tug at her arms and legs. She struggles to ward them off until a priest stops it.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Theo travels to Germany knowing he might be killed.
How does he have the courage to face danger?
- Leah's temporary loss of hearing and miscarriage occur when Muslims set off a bomb.
How does she cope with tragedy resulting from terrorist acts? What kinds of tragedy have happened to you?
How did you react?
- Eli's lust and love for Victoria get in the way of his studies to be a rabbi.
How does he avoid or yield to temptation?
How have you avoided or given into temptations?
- A young Jewish boy in France trusts someone who turns out to be evil, and the boy becomes a pawn for Hitler's cause.
What made him trust this person?
- How do you decide if someone is trustworthy?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.