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Anna Olswanger

A Visit to Moscow
Adapted by Anna Olswanger
From a story by Rabbi Rafael Grossman
Illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg

2023 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards Nominee as a "Best Adaptation from Another Medium"

In 1965, an American rabbi travels to the Soviet Union to investigate reports of persecution of the Jewish community. Moscow welcomes him as a guest—but provides a strict schedule he and the rest of his group must follow.

One afternoon, the rabbi slips away. With an address in hand and almost no knowledge of the Russian language, he embarks on a secret journey that will change his life forever.

Inspired by the true experience of Rabbi Rafael Grossman, who traveled to the Soviet Union at a dangerous time of uncertainty and fear for Jews there, A Visit to Moscow captures the formidable perseverance and strength of the Jewish people during the "Let My People Go" movement, a modern exodus often overlooked.

The late Rabbi Rafael Grossman was a respected leader at some of the nation’s most distinguished Jewish organizations, including the Beth Din of America and the Rabbinical Council of America. He received several awards for his work in the Jewish community. In 1965, Rabbi Grossman traveled to the Soviet Union as part of a rabbinical delegation to visit Jewish victims of government-sponsored anti-Semitism. Profoundly moved by the experience, he often wrote and spoke about his time there after returning to the United States.

Anna Olswanger first began interviewing Rabbi Rafael Grossman and writing down his stories in the early 1980s. She is the author of the middle grade novel Greenhorn, based on an incident in Rabbi Grossman's childhood and set against the backdrop of the Holocaust. She is also the author of Shlemiel Crooks, a Sydney Taylor Honor Book and PJ Library Book, which she wrote after discovering a 1919 Yiddish newspaper article about the attempted robbery of her great-grandparents' kosher liquor store in St. Louis.

Yevgenia Nayberg is an award-winning illustrator, painter, and set and costume designer. As a designer, she has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts/TCG Fellowship for Theatre Designers, the Independent Theatre Award, and the Arlin Meyer Award. She has received multiple awards for her picture book illustrations, including two Sydney Taylor Medals. Her debut author/illustrator picture book, Anya's Secret Society, received a Junior Library Guild Gold Selection Award. Her artwork can be found in magazines and on posters and music albums. Originally from Kiev, Ukraine, Yevgenia now lives and draws from her studio in New York City.

Praise for A Visit to Moscow

Karen Cushman, Newbery Award–winning author
"Stirring and tragic and hopeful all at the same time. Extraordinary illustrations, compelling words, and a heartbreaking story make it a book to cherish."

Yossi Klein Halevi, New York Times bestselling author
"This beautiful, haunting story evokes the tragedy and triumph of Soviet Jewry in a way that few books have managed to do. Anna Olswanger helps young readers understand the world from which contemporary Jewry emerged."

Yosef Mendelevitch, Prisoner of Zion in the former Soviet Union
"A Visit to Moscow gives the true feeling of the tragedy of Russian Jewry. For seventy years we were isolated, not getting the fresh air of Yiddishkeit—we almost starved. And still, Soviet Jewry survived against all odds."

Publishers Weekly
"An American rabbi's visit to the Soviet Union gets adapted by Olswanger with evocative art by Nayberg into a compact but potent graphic narrative. This faith-affirming fablelike tale will make a ready gift book from older Jewish relatives to younger generations."

Moment Magazine
"That A Visit to Moscow is beautifully illustrated by Yevgenia Nayberg, who was born in Ukraine and now lives in New York City, makes this encounter with the history of the Soviet Jewry movement, which was so much a part of the later 20th-century American Jewish experience, especially poignant and timely."

The Jewish Book Council
“With starkly dramatic text and haunting images, author and illustrator convey the devastating oppression of Soviet Jewish life, and the commitment of one Jew to bring their horrifying reality into the light.”

"The storytelling is clear and crisp, written in the first person, enabling the reader to walk in Rabbi Grossman's shoes. The illustrations, contributed by a Jewish Ukrainian-American artist, reflect the grim realities of Soviet life, especially in shape and color. Form and pallet shift as hope is restored and we see a future in the promised land."

Graphic Policy
"Its a really interesting read and definitely something unique that's out there in the comics community."

The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
"Inspired by real events, the eye-opening and important narrative in this graphic novel are punctuated by the phenomenal illustrations, showing Jewish life in the Soviet Union."

The Jerusalem Post
"In A Visit to Moscow, Yevgenia Nayberg's drawings create a striking backdrop to Olswanger's text. Her palette changes according to the story, adding to the effect of the words. The book is short but packs a punch. I recommend it to school-age children and adults alike."

Buy A Visit to Moscow