The Ghost in Apartment 2R

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The Ghost in Apartment 2R book coverWhat the Book is About:

When 13-year-old Danny Kantrowitz’s older brother finally goes to college, Danny can’t wait to move into the bigger bedroom. Unfortunately, his parents decide to rent the room out on AirHotel to make a little extra money to cover the cost of college. Soon, unexplained things start happening in the room, including sudden gusts of cold air, a strange face appearing at the window, and lights turning on in the middle of the night. Danny’s parents assume he’s just having a hard time adjusting to the new arrangements, but his best friends and their grandparents believe him and are determined to help him solve the mystery of the odd occurrences in the guest bedroom.

Jewish Content and Values

  • Danny and his family celebrate Shabbat with his grandmother, Bubbe Ruth, who uses several Yiddish words and phrases.
  • Bubbe Ruth teaches Danny about dybbuks and ibburs, two different kinds of spirits from Jewish mythology. Both the dybbuk and Bubbe Ruth sing a Yiddish lullaby, Rozhinkes mit Mandlen, or Raisins and Almonds.
  • L’dor v’dor: Although the parents of Danny and his friends don’t believe in ghosts or spirits, their grandparents do. As the three children go to their various grandparents, they hear ghost stories from a variety of cultures, although it is ultimately Danny’s Jewish grandmother who helps to solve the mystery.

Positive Role Models

  • Danny’s parents, Martin and Maureen Kantrowitz, remain supportive of Danny even as they struggle to understand his perspective on what might be happening in the spare bedroom.
  • Danny’s best friends, Natalie and Gus, are funny, smart, and loyal as they help Danny solve the mystery of the dybbuk.
  • Natalie’s grandfather, Sammy Haddad, owns a local Arab foods store. He is a pillar of the community and a kind man, and he ultimately organizes a scholarship to help the Kantrowitz family pay for Jake’s college expenses.

Content Advisory

There are several ghost stories from different cultures in the book, including one about a ghoulish bride who eats corpses, a character who hangs herself, and a young woman and a baby boy who both die in a fire. In the traditional nature of ghost stories for this age group, they are a bit creepy but age appropriate. In addition, when Danny and his friends finally confront the dybbuk, she is initially a bit aggressive, but is ultimately kind and sad.

Talk it Over

Judaism has a long tradition of stories about demons, dybbuks, ghosts, and golems. These spirits aren’t always described as scary or mean; the ibbur is described as a kind spirit who stays behind long enough to guide a living being into a righteous life. Not surprisingly, Jews disagree about whether any of this is real. Do you believe in ghosts or spirits?

More for You

According to Bubbe Ruth, learning a dybbuk’s name is crucial to taming it and sending it to the next world. Jewish tradition holds deep respect for the power of names; according to an old bubbe meise (old wives’ tale), baby boys aren’t named until the eighth day in order to protect them from the Angel of Death. The books of the Torah have long lists of names scattered throughout, which scholars interpret as a way of honoring and remembering each individual person listed. Finally, while the Jewish tradition has many names for God, the most common version in the Torah is never pronounced as written.

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