In the Library בַּסִּפְרִיָּה 10/13

After the solemnity of Yom Kippur, there is nothing more exciting and life-affirming than Sukkot and that’s what Sunday’s books were all about. I treated the kindergarten class to a new book – Who’s Got the Etrog? by Jane Kohuth.

Set in the Ugandan Jewish community of the Abayudaya, all the animals come to enjoy Sukkot in Auntie Sanyu’s sukkah, but one animal friend refuses to share the etrog, but eventually learns how. Aside from the important mitzvah of sharing, the kids learned that there are Jews all over the world in places they would not have imagined.

As future problem solvers and community members, I knew the 1st/2nd graders would enjoy Sky-High Sukkah by Rachel Packer, in which Leah and her friend Ari solve the problem of how to afford and build a sukkah in the crowded big city by enlisting the help of their community — sort of the story “Stone Soup”, but with building materials. 

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Finally, I had great fun with the 3rd-4th graders as I introduced the term “ushpizin” — Aramaic for “guests”. https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/ushpizin-welcoming-guests/ Though these “guests” symbolically invited into the sukkah were originally male figures from the Tanach, the guest list has been expanded in recent years to include not only biblical women, but anyone inspiring and meaningful. 

First I asked the kids who they would invite (and got lots of exuberant answers!) and then I introduced them to a few of our collective biographies, such as Portraits of Jewish-American Heroes by Malka Drucker, Hear Her Voice: Twelve Jewish Women Who Changed the World by Miriam P. Feinberg and The Jewish Prophet: Visionary Words from Moses and Miriam to Henrietta Szold and A.J. Heschel by Michael J. Shire

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Then came the frenzy to check out individual biographies on such interesting figures as Hedy Lamarr (actress/inventor), Daniel Mendoza (18th century English boxer), Jean Laffite (pirate, American Revolution patriot), Harry Houdini (magician), and many many more…

Who would you invite?

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