PRIVATE JOEL AND THE SEWELL MOUNTAIN SEDER by Bryna J. Fireside with illustrations by Shawn Costello is based on a true story in 1862 about Jews fighting on the Union side in the Civil War.
I highly recommend this children’s picture book — buy it in conjunction with THE YANKEE AT THE SEDER
And here’s the author’s note about the true story:
Many years ago, an article by Rabbi David Geffen in the Binghamton, NY Jewish Reporter captured my imagination. it was about a group of Jewish soldiers in the 23rd Ohio Regiment who celebrated Passover during the Civil War. Further research uncovered an article by J.A. Joel, “Passover –A Reminiscence of the War” which appeared in The Jewish Messenger April 1866. It gives many details about the seder which took place in the mountains of West Virginia.
This is a delightful story of the ingenuity of these Jewish soldiers to provide all the required elements of the seder. Some of them are quite imaginative.
And as adults read this book to their children, let’s remember that we American Jews celebrate the holiday of Pesach in a country that give us complete religious freedom thanks.
This Pesach, as we lounge comfortably around our seder tables in the U.S., may we remember those Jewish and non-Jewish men and women currently in harm’s way whose sacrifices enable us to celebrate our freedom.