For ten-year-old Virginian Jacob Josephson, April, 1865, marks a time of celebration and sorrow. As his Jewish family busily prepares for Passover, Jacob mourns the surrender of General Robert E. Lee, which all but ends the Civil War. “I [am] never going to be a Rebel general,” he thinks sadly. “[I’ll] never capture a whole unit of Yankees single-handed.”
Imagine Jacob’s surprise when, on the day of the seder (the feast marking the beginning of Passover), who should stop by his house but a Yankee soldier! It turns out that Corporal Myer Levy is also Jewish is and looking for a place to have the seder. Much to Jacob’s disgust, his mother welcomes Levy in to join in the family celebration.
“Jacob,” says his mother, “every year we begin the seder in the same way. We say, ‘All who are hungry, let them come and eat; all who are in need, let them join us for the Passover meal.’ A hungry man needing a seder has come to our home. Would you send him away for wearing a blue coat?”
But can Jacob and his family truly overcome the bitterness caused by the war? Will they be able to focus on the true meaning of the Passover celebration?
The Yankee at the Seder, by Elka Weber, is based on the true story of a Southern Jewish family, a Northern Jewish soldier, and their common bond of faith.