Cover image for Rivka's first Thanksgiving
Rivka's first Thanksgiving
Rael, Elsa.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2001.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
Having heard about Thanksgiving in school, nine-year-old Rivka tries to convince her immigrant family and her rabbi that it is a holiday for all Americans, Jews and non-Jews alike.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.9 0.5 54254.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC.BK. Juvenile Current Holiday Item Childrens Area-Holiday
PIC BK Juvenile Current Holiday Item Holiday

On Order



To the Rabbi Yoshe Preminger, Sir, My Bubbeh believes you are the wisest man in the whole world, but I cannot agree with her. You have read a thousand books, but you do not seem to understand that immigrants came to America to escape from mean, wicked people who hurt them and their families. That is why the Pilgrims came and that is why the Jewish people came later. The Pilgrims were thankful and I think that we should be too. Signed by Rivka Rabin

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4-8. Rivka's immigrant Jewish family doesn't know anything about Thanksgiving. "Is it for Jews?" they ask. Grandmother takes Rivka to consult with the great Rabbi, and after he decides that Thanksgiving is not a celebration for Jews, she dares to write him a letter telling him he's wrong (immigrants came to America to escape from mean, wicked people who hurt them and their families") and persuades the Council of Rabbis that Jews also owe thanks. This isn't as touching as Rael's What Zeesie Saw on Delancey Street (1996), which was also set in the early 1900s in Manhattan's Lower East Side. Some of the colored-pencil-and-acrylic pictures are too exaggerated--the mother and grandmother are almost cartoons. But there is a strong sense of the warmth and energy in the crowded neighborhood, and the idea of the child teaching the wise elders will have broad appeal. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

After learning about Thanksgiving in school in the 1910s, nine-year-old Rivka succeeds in persuading her immigrant family and her rabbi that it is a holiday for all Americans even Jewish families. Rivka's case to her rabbi (and six of his peers) is impassioned, although some readers may have trouble believing that none of these learned men has heard of the holiday. Kovalski (Queen Nadine) is at her best with scenes of the Lower East Side's bustling streets, but her cartoonish illustrations often clash with Rael's (What Zeesie Saw on Delancy Street) moving message. Ages 5-9. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-3-After learning about Thanksgiving at school, Rivka tries to persuade her Jewish immigrant family to observe this quintessential American holiday. But their resistance to participating in a "Gentile" celebration leads the nine-year-old to confront the family's rabbi with a letter pointing out the similarities between the Pilgrims and the Jews in escaping religious persecution. While the theme of an immigrant child trying to bridge the gap between her new life in America and the traditions of her family is one that endures, this book fails to convey the cultural importance of Thanksgiving, not to mention the vibrant life of Jewish immigrants on New York's Lower East Side in the 1910s. Based on a story passed down through the author's family, the text is wordy and presupposes too much knowledge about Jewish immigrants. The pencil-and-acrylic illustrations are cloyingly sweet and merely average in quality. On some pages, Rivka appears to be a much younger child, which contradicts her precocious challenge to the esteemed rabbi. An additional title at best.-Teri Markson, Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School, Los Angeles (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.