Shmuel Ha Nagid: A Tale of the Gold­en Age

Aryeh Mahr. Esteve Polls, illus.
  • Review
By – July 20, 2012
This beau­ti­ful­ly illus­trat­ed graph­ic nov­el, appro­pri­ate for ages 9 – 12, is pre­ced­ed by a haskamah (endorse­ment) from Rab­bi Aharon David Neustadt and an his­tor­i­cal overview by Rab­bi Ber­el Wein. It is the first in a planned series about the life of Rab­bi Shmuel Ha Nagid, a promi­nent Tal­mu­dic schol­ar as well as philoso­pher, poet, states­man and war­rior. Vol­ume 1 begins with Rab­bi Shmuel’s flight from a mas­sacre in Cor­do­ba, Spain. The sto­ry con­tin­ues with the rabbi’s life in Grana­da and his rise to a pow­er­ful gov­ern­men­tal posi­tion, vizier to the king. Shmuel Ha Nagid: A Tale of the Gold­en Age is rec­om­mend­ed for read­ers who are con­ver­sant in Hebrew or who are com­fort­able with terms com­mon­ly used in the study of the Torah and Tal­mud, since the text includes many Hebrew words and phras­es, such as Bav­el, Mesiv­ta, chaz­al, mat­zli­ach, tseis­chem leshalom with­out giv­ing their Eng­lish trans­la­tion. Although the sto­ry is inter­est­ing, it is con­fus­ing at times because the scenes switch time and place with­out warn­ing. The cos­tumes and places such as the Al Ham­bra are accu­rate­ly and real­is­ti­cal­ly drawn. This book is rec­om­mend­ed for an Ortho­dox audi­ence of ages 9 – 12.
Ilka Gor­don has a Mas­ters in Edu­ca­tion from Boston Uni­ver­si­ty and an M.L.I.S. from Kent State Uni­ver­si­ty. She is a librar­i­an at Sie­gal Col­lege of Juda­ic Stud­ies in Cleveland.

Discussion Questions