The Secret of Carlos Romanus

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The Secret of Carlos Romanus book coverWhat the Book is About:

Fifteen-year-old Moshe Levi is the head of his family now that his father has died. But on his very first business trip from Amsterdam to Africa, Moshe is shipwrecked in Spain, where the powerful Catholic Inquisition have expelled all the Jews, forcing Moshe to hide his Jewish identity. Using his extensive knowledge of Jewish traditions and keen powers of observation, he manages to find a secret Passover Seder and befriend a local Jewish family. Kids will enjoy this easy-to-read, fast-paced story about Moshe’s adventures, and they’ll gain a unique perspective on Jewish life in Spain during the 17th century.

Jewish Content and Values

  • Moshe Levi and his family are traditional Orthodox Jews, who eat only kosher food and pray several times a day. Moshe’s strong belief in God gives him the confidence to overcome adversity during his adventures, and his kind and generous nature is apparent to everyone he meets.
  • In Spain, Moshe and his new friends participate in a secret Passover Seder. Moshe shares his knowledge of Jewish prayers and traditions with his new friends. 
  • At the conclusion of the story, Moshe recognizes the Hashgacha Pratit (divine providence) directing the events of his life for the best possible outcome.

Positive Role Models

  • Moshe has an unshakeable conviction that God will protect him and save him from adversity. He is a faithful friend to Carlos Romanus and a responsible son who provides for his family after the loss of his father.  
  • Carlos Romanus welcomes Moshe into his home and cares for him like family. 

Content Advisory

Although Moshe’s life is difficult (losing his father, becoming shipwrecked, and hiding his Jewish identity from the Spanish authorities), this book is written from an accessible and kid-friendly perspective that presents these challenges in a positive way.

Talk it Over

Moshe’s clever plan to discover other Jewish people shopping at the market for a Passover Seder was very successful! Does your family shop for any special Jewish items or foods throughout the year?

More for You

In the beginning of the 17th century, most Dutch Jews were Sephardic, originally from Spanish and Portuguese communities fleeing the Inquisition. The Dutch provinces allowed them the freedom to trade while practicing Judaism without fear of persecution. Their talent and influence helped to establish Amsterdam as an international trading hub throughout the 17th century and contributed to the great prosperity of the Netherlands. By the 1940s, there were close to 80,000 Jews living in Amsterdam, the center of the Dutch Jewish community; about 80% were murdered or deported during the Holocaust. Today, there are approximately 15,000 Jews living in Amsterdam’s thriving Jewish community.

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