The Patchwork Torah (Sukkot & Simchat Torah) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-04-10 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 6 user ratings

" Though my knowledge of Judaism is limited, I did find this story very touching. It is a intergenerational/multigenerational story that helps children understand the special place the Torah has in Judaism, and though the writing was not necessarily spectacular, the story was still strong. " said.

"Inspired by his grandfather's painstaking attention to detail in creating a new Torah for the synagogue, David decides to become a scribe as well. Eventually, he becomes the caretaker of several Torahs, one that escaped the Holocaust, one that was damaged by fire, and one damaged during Hurricane Katrina. At the suggestion of his granddaughter Leah, he takes pieces from each of the scrolls and patches together to form another one to be shared with the congregation. The simple but effective text and the illustrations, created with gouache and acrylics, are marvelous reminders of the importance of traditions and the connections among generations. " said.

"It was time for Simchat Torah. A young boy named David, would celebrate his grandfathers new Torah. It was wartime and David would learn to be a sofer or scribe like his grandfather. As time passed David saw his grandfather receive may Torah's that needed repair. Each Torah had a story behind it. Soon, David had children of his own and his son Josh watched David, and still the collection of Torah's grew. One day, David's granddaughter suggested that he recycle all of the old Torah's to make one. Each piece would have it's own story to tell. But, will David have it ready in time for Simchat Torah?

Author Allison Ofanansky has put together a wonderful story of family, tradition and Jewish culture. Illustrations with warm colors of brown, yellow and orange bring to life this tale and each story behind the Torah. Young readers will be engaged. Parents and teachers will be able to share and discuss the terms and history regarding Jewish customs.
" said.

"David’s grandfather was a scribe. He had been asked by the rabbi to write a new Torah for their synagogue because the old one was fading. David watched his grandfather work for a year on the new Torah and then store it away, explaining that a Torah is not something to be thrown out. Years later, as David was learning to be a scribe from his grandfather, a couple came to them bringing a Torah that they had hidden from the Nazis. It was badly water damaged and his grandfather tucked that Torah away too in the hopes of working on it someday. David grew up to be a scribe and inherited his grandfather’s cabinet with the two scrolls inside. One day, the rabbi called and told him that there had been a fire in the synagogue and the Torah was damaged. That scroll too was put away. Finally, Katrina hit New Orleans and a Torah was rescued but damaged too. David suddenly had an idea and worked for months to take the four scrolls and patch them together into one complete Torah that would be unlike any other.

Ofanansky builds this story slowly and steadily. Each Torah comes into the book with a full story and history. Each is unique and ruined in some way, but worthy of being rescued and reused. It is the ultimate in recycling. The book also pays homage to the long history of scribes who care for and create Torah, showing the dedication that it takes to learn the art and skill.

The art by Oriol has a quiet nature too. The paintings are suffused in yellow light and warmth. Even the days of the tragedies that happen to the people and the Torah are light-filled and hope filled.

A quiet and powerful story about renewal and reuse, this book speaks across religions to the importance of hard work and resilience. Appropriate for ages 6-9.
" said.

"I really liked this one! This is a multi-generational story that starts with the main character, David, as a small boy. His grandfather is a sofer, or scribe, and is responsible for making new Torahs to replace damaged ones. The holy books cannot be thrown away and he develops quite a collection, that later passes on to his grandson along with his skills. There are references to historic events such as the Holocaust and Hurricane Katrina. Aside from learning about some etiquette surrounding the holy book, The Patchwork Torah touches on history and tradition, as well as recycling and reuse.

I actually teared up while reading this picture book. I loved the story and while the illustrations are very old-fashioned, they are quite beautiful! The composition and characters are really well done. I don't know how appealing this is to kids, but as an adult I like it very much.

Literacy cafe foods: There are none mentioned in the book, but as the story start on Simchat Torah and is really about the holy book, scroll-shaped foods like stuffed cabbage and blintzes would be appropriate. (I googled it, haha. There are also Torah-shaped cookies, but I do actually really enjoy stuffed cabbage and blintzes, so that is what I would make.)

Literacy cafe crafts/writing: To bring in the recycling aspect, use pieces of scratch paper and join them with glue or tape (sewing with yarn or thread would be ok for older kids). Then draw and/or write about an item that was damaged or old, but could be repaired rather than thrown away. I really like the idea of exploring this concept in practice as well (like, have the child look for an item at home, repair it, then write in the recycled scroll about the reasons and process behind the project).

It brought the Lovey Repair project to mind, and while the blog seems to be defunct you can still browse through the previous posts:

I also think trying to write with a quill and ink would be a good project for older kids (I actually find it kind of frustrating, haven't figured it out) whether they're trying to write Hebrew or just cursive (another skill which apparently is fading fast in our culture). I think this would be a crazy mess to try with little kids, since pigmented ink stains really badly and trimming quills properly would require them to use a sharp blade.
" said.

May 2018 New Book:

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