The Secret Shofar of Barcelona

by Jacqueline Dembar Greene

Other authorsDoug Chayka
Book, 2009



Call number

E 239 GRE



Minneapolis : Kar-Ben, 2009.


In the late 1500s, while Don Fernando, the conductor of the Royal Orchestra of Barcelona prepares for a concert to celebrate Spain's colonies in the New World, his son Rafael secretly practices playing the Shofar to help Jews, who must hide their faith from the Inquisition, to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. Includes historical facts and glossary.

User reviews

LibraryThing member matthewbloome
Not too many books at this age do a great job of describing the Inquisition and the fight against it. This one does a reasonable job. It brings the story of a conductor and his son the reader with simple language and expressive illustration, revealing further back story at the beginning and end of
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the book. Overall, a very satisfying read.
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LibraryThing member decaturmamaof2
I read this to my daughtet today - very nice story and impactful illustrations
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Don Fernando was a respected musician and composer in 16th-century Barcelona, and the conductor of the Duke's Royal Orchestra. He was also a 'converso' - a Jew who had been forced to convert to Catholicism under the Spanish Inquisition - who secretly kept to Jewish tradition. Working on a special
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piece of music to celebrate Spain's conquest of the Americas, he incorporated the blowing of the shofar - the ram's horn trumpet used at the Jewish near year of Rosh Hashanah - into the work. His son, Rafael, was the one to blow the shofar, right in front of the Duke, the members of the Inquisition, and all of Barcelona...

Jacqueline Dembar Greene is a noted Jewish American children's author, perhaps best known for her books about Rebecca, which are part of the 'American Girls' series, although she also wrote the novel Out of Many Waters, which features a young girl fleeing from the Portuguese Inquisition. The Secret Shofar of Barcelona is the first of her books that I have read, and it makes for an engaging introduction (if one is searching for such a thing) to the Spanish Inquisition for younger children. With its story of a family of Crypto-Jews (Jews who secretly adhered to their ancestral faith, while outwardly maintaining another), it reminded me a bit of Heidi Smith Hyde's Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue. The accompanying artwork from illustrator Doug Chayka is colorful and expressive, beautifully capturing the tension in the story. Recommended to anyone seeking children's stories about the Spanish Inquisition and/or set at Rosh Hashanah.
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0822599449 / 9780822599449

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