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SKY-HIGH SUKKAH by Rachel Ornstein Packer


by Rachel Ornstein Packer ; illustrated by Deborah Zemke

Pub Date: Aug. 4th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-68115-513-5
Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Friends and neighbors help apartment dweller Leah figure out a way to build a communal sukkah for the autumn holiday.

Living in a city high-rise does not afford Leah and her white, Jewish family an opportunity to create their own family sukkah. There is no backyard, and no one is ever allowed up on the roof, so celebrating at someone else’s sukkah is the norm, much to Leah’s dismay. When her friend Ari, also white, wins the Hebrew school poster contest for his painting of a city skyscraper crowned with a fully decorated sukkah, the prize is a real sukkah kit. But how can Ari make use of it without help? Neighbors and friends join in, volunteering to store, carry, build, and decorate this special sukkah everyone will share on the roof of Ari’s apartment house. More than simply celebrating in her own sukkah, Leah comes to understand the value of participating as part of a community. Gouache paintings in the blues and grays of a realistic urban concrete landscape complete the subtly informative narrative, which culminates with a colorful sukkah decked out with fruits and vegetables gifted by the local greengrocer, a black gentile named Al.

Beyond explaining the holiday’s significance, Leah’s story will serve to illustrate Judaism’s model of kehilla (community), in which cooperative spirit brings people together.

(author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)