This book takes place in the year of 1947. It is set in post World War II Brooklyn, NY. The story is wove from the lives of 11 year old Irish-American Michael Devlin and a refugee of war, named Rabbi Judah Hirsch. Together Michael and Rabbi Hirsh Form an unlikely Friendship and teach the reader about the true oneness of humankind. This story is a beautiful parable of the inherent goodness of mankind and the ability of the human spirit to overcome evil.
The story begins during a blizzard of epic proportions, on a cold Saturday Morning. Michael Devlin is on his way through the treacherous, deserted, streets of his working-class Brooklyn neighborhood. Michael is to serve as Altar boy at the 8 am Mass in his Parish. Michael is battling his way through fierce snow drifts akin to a Jack London Novel, when he hears a small accented voice asking for help. It is the voice of Rabbi Judah Hirsch. Rabbi Hirsch wants Michael to enter the Synagogue and turn on the light switch. It was the Shabbos and therefore the Rabbi was not permitted to turn on the light himself. From that one simple act, Michael becomes the Shabbos Goy and enters the Rabbi’s world full of mystery and magic.
The Rabbi and Michael agree to help each other. Michael will give the Rabbi English lessons and the Rabbi will teach Michael Yiddish. Their language lessons evolve into a friendship.
Michael learns the magic and history of the Rabbi’s Religion. Rabbi Hirsch learns the way of the Brooklyn Streets. However, their friendship does not come easy. They feel the pressure of prejudice felt against the Jews. In spite of this adversity, their friendship does not waver. [BR] The story is shadowed with looming disaster. A gang of young thugs prowls the neighborhood. Their leader Frankie beats up the Jewish proprietor of a candy store, putting the old man in a coma. Michael and his friends have the bad luck to witness this. Michael knows that if he acts as a witness this gang will cause him severe physical harm.. As the story stretches onwards, it becomes certain that Frankie will come after him. Through the friendship of Rabbi Hirsch Michael learns that not reporting Frankie is as bad as committing the crime himself. Finally, Frankie and his gang become too big a threat. The only thing that can help Michael is the Magic he learned from Rabbi Hirsch. Even though Michael and the Rabbi face great peril they overcome and defeat evil.