AGE: 12 up
Orit Uziel has taken the age-old theme of love between a poor boy and a rich girl and set it in the Sephardi community of Jerusalem, under Ottoman rule at the turn of the last century. Destitute Abramo and his younger brother sail from Istanbul to the Land of Israel, fleeing from the wrath of a stingy and cruel uncle. After the ship docks at Jaffa port, the two set off on foot for Jerusalem and come to the home of Bolisa Mazal, their mother's elder sister. In spite of her doubts, she lets them stay and soon learns that the two are good, hard-working youths. Abramo immediately begins to work as a porter, but Haham Alkutzer, a grocer with a keen eye for character, offers the boy a job in his store. The handsome boy's arrival in Jerusalem does not escape the curious eyes of the young girls. They find only one flaw: Abramo is a poor boy who does not, apparently, have anything to offer a pretty girl of good background. Nevertheless, the beautiful Blanca, who follows his movements from her bedroom window, falls in love with him. But Blanca's mother has ambitious plans for her daughter. She tries to match her up with a rich merchant from Izmir, twice her daughter's age. The plan fails. Blanca's father puts a stop to the match and Blanca marries her chosen groom. In the meantime, it transpires that Abramo is not as poor as everyone thought, since the grocer for whom he worked leaves him half his store. The happy ending enhances the charm of this exotic story. Orit Uziel portrays the life and atmosphere of the Sephardi neighborhoods of Jerusalem marvellously and weaves a fascinating, colorful tale.
Illustrations: Avi Katz