Finding enough historical facts to create a complete picture is oftentimes impossible. Nevertheless, writers remain persistent when they feel a story needs to be told. Karen Gray Ruelle and Deborah Durland DeSaix fall into this category. After gathering a sufficient amount of facts to support their contention that the Muslim community protected the Jews in Paris, they wrote the multicultural picture book, The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust (Holiday House Book, 2009).
Starting with an overview of what happened after the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, upper elementary and middle school readers will learn how the French Jew were affected by World War II. After a few pages, the story shifts to the lofty presence of the Grand Mosque of Paris, a notable landmark.
The stories of the people who found refuge in the mosque are told in a narrative format alongside paintings that illustrate the mosque’s beauty and the ways that some of the people were rescued. Relying on firsthand and secondhand references as well as Derri Berkani‘s documentary, Une Resistance Oubliee: La Mosquee and Robert Satloff’s book, Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust’s Long Reach into Arab Lands, the authors meticulously unveil some clandestine activities that occurred in the mosque.
The actions of these brave Muslims saved the lives of an unknown number of Jews and non Jews. This book, along with others in this genre, help to shed light on the people (righteous Gentiles) who were willing to risk their lives during the Nazi era.
- Methods used to uncover history
- Determining reliability of testimony and documents
- Primary vs. secondary sources
- Preserving historical records
- Ethical Choices
- Kabyles– Muslims from Atlas Mountains of Algieria
- Relationships- Muslims and Jews, Muslims and the Nazis
- Holocaust history
- World War II
- Vocabulary- Occupation, Resistance, Righteous Gentiles, catacombs, checheya or fez
- Yad Vashem & Righteous Among the Nations
- Paris- geography and interconnected tunnel system
- Can you share a lesson plan that included this picture book?
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