The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust
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.
From School Library Journal
Grade 4–6—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 END --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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. Grades 3-6. --Ilene Cooper.
Number of Pages: 40
Publisher: Holiday House; Reprint edition (June 1, 2010)
Author: Karen Gray Ruelle (Author), Deborah Durland DeSaix (Illustrator)
Dimensions: 10.8 x 0.1 x 9.5 inches
KitaabWorld Book Review: This little-known piece of history recounts how the Muslims of Grand Mosque of Paris saved the lives of many Jews in Nazi occupied France. With beautiful but sombre oil paintings, the illustrations hint both at a time of desperation but also of hope. A timely reminder of the ties of humanity and brotherhood between communities, it echoes a quote familiar to both Jews and Muslims, “Save one life and it is as if you have saved all of humanity.”
This book is also part of our CELEBRATING ISLAM book list.