Going Rogue (At Hebrew School)

Green Bean. Sept. 2020. 224p. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781784385392.
Gr 4-6–Ten-year-old Avery Green loves three things in life: football, science, and Star Wars. One thing he does not love? Going to Hebrew school twice a week. His parents assure him that it’s only until his bar mitzvah, but that’s three whole years away. In the meantime, Hebrew school seems to be actively preventing him from enjoying his interests. His classes are held at the same time as the practices for the East Bay Football League. His Hebrew school teacher changes the subject when he brings up the Big Bang. And his Hebrew school lessons have nothing to do with Star Wars—or that’s what he thinks, until Rabbi Bob, an interim Rabbi at the temple, becomes his new teacher. Rabbi Bob draws connections between Hebrew scriptures and “The Force,” and has a lightsaber in his office. All of a sudden, lines drawn between Avery’s worlds begin to blur. When Damon, the football team’s resident bully, starts picking on his classmate Gideon, Avery must decide if the friendship is worth defending. The book’s length and fast pace make it easy for reluctant readers to enjoy. Avery is easy to empathize with, allowing the reader to see through his bravado and relate to his insecurities. A very helpful Notes section is included to explain Hebrew and Yiddish phrases and texts.
VERDICT Readers don’t need to be Jewish to enjoy this relatable tale of being forced into cultural and/or religious activities by one’s family.

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