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Using Literature to Build Jewish Values in Your Children

Quake! Disaster in San Franscico, 1906
Let's go "Beyond the Book" with
Quake! Disaster in San Franscico, 1906.

Ages 8-11

A hundred years have passed since the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Recently, our children have experienced two natural disasters – hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami.

Through the eyes of the modern media, they saw first hand the destruction and the frantic search for loved ones in the rubble that remained.

Gail Langer Karwoski’s novel Quake! Is a must read for today’s child. All the elements of a good historical novel are there – wonderful storyline, vivid descriptions, suspense and believable characters.

Our hero is a teenager named Jacob, and like his biblical namesake, he meets his life’s challenges with the combination of courage, kindness, and optimism.

It took courage to stand up for his newly found friend, who because of Chinese descent was discriminated against. His kindness to the Irish family who took him into their tent was laudable. And he stayed optimistic and focused as he searched for his lost family.


How does one teach a feeling? Patriotism is an emotion I had no trouble feeling – I cried at parades, loved the flag, respected the President and was proud of the two stars that hung in our window. The stars represented my two brothers, serving in a world war that we all knew with certainty was noble.

Quake! Is a resource par excellence for patriotism. It shows Americans at their best, working together for the common good. It teaches the reader what unselfishness looks like, and that materialism is fleeting.

Quake! Makes us come to grips with the miracle that nature is usually contained and it is a miracle we take for granted.

And it is the Jewish value of balance that we can all take as a lesson – a balance that our sages teach – to live in this reality and yet not be bound by it. We look to the future, all the while knowing that in difficult times “this too shall pass,” and did I measure up to the challenge. JACOB DID!

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