The Patchwork Torah

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/31/2014
Inspired by tradition, deep faith, and an understanding that to "repair and reuse things" makes the world a better place, a sofer (the Hebrew word for a craftsman-scribe who transcribes sacred documents) takes pieces of four damaged Torah scrolls—ravaged by old age, the Holocaust, fire, and Hurricane Katrina—and creates a wonderful new Torah. Although Ofanansky's (Harvest of Light) prose and Oriol's acrylic and gouache vignettes strike a thoughtful, serious mood (as befits a story about an intensely spiritual labor of love), an unmistakable momentum and sense of suspense build as one by one the stories of the rescued Torahs are told, and the scrolls are put into a special cabinet for a yet-to-be-determined future. David, the hero, starts out as boy learning the art of the sofer from his grandfather during World War II, and ends as a grandfather himself in a joyous present-day Simchat Torah celebration, carrying his patchwork Torah as his young granddaughter "walked proudly alongside him." Surprisingly inventive and genuinely uplifting, this story beautifully and subtly ties together two key Jewish precepts: l'dor v'dor (generation to generation) and tikkum olam (repair the world). Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The story begins when David is young. His grandfather is a sofer, or scribe, who has just finished writing a new Torah, or holy book, for the synagogue. It has taken him over a year to transcribe the Hebrew with quill and ink on parchment. The new Torah is carried with pride around the synagogue. When David grows up, he learns how to be a scribe from his grandfather. One day cousins Sarah and Ben, survivors of the terrible war in Europe, arrive carrying a Torah they have saved. It is damaged, so Grandfather puts it away. Years later, a fire damages the one Grandfather wrote. It is David’s granddaughter Leah who inspires the patchwork solution. The acrylic and gouache framed illustrations in tones of tan and brown fill the double pages with the naturalistic but impressionistic characters and settings. The text and pictures are filled with emotion. The use of light on the Torah is particularly effective. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz; Ages 4 to 8.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-05
This book will be read more than once, and that seems only appropriate, as Jews are never finished reading the Torah. In a traditional synagogue, the congregation spends an entire year reading the Hebrew Bible out loud, immediately flipping back to the first chapter to start again. So it makes a sort of sense that David's family has spent many generations creating the same Torah scroll out of disparate parts. One part has been hidden during World War II and needs repair. Other sections of the parchment are damaged in a fire and in Hurricane Katrina. David's grandfather was a scribe—a sofer—and David learns from him, splicing pieces of the damaged scrolls together as an adult to make a new one. "This is a very unusual scroll," David tells the congregation. "I wrote part of it. Other sofers, in other places and at other times, wrote other parts." Even less-than-traditional Jews may be moved as the scroll is passed from one family member to another. David teaches his grandchildren to write Hebrew letters and reads the first lines of the scroll to his granddaughter: "In the beginning…." Even the most trivial sentences in the book start to seem oddly beautiful. A passage about scrap drives becomes profound: Nothing is ever lost or wasted; nothing—and no one—is ever unimportant. Readers may close the cover thinking that a picture book—like a Torah scroll—can be essential. (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781467704274
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/2014
  • Series: Sukkot & Simchat Torah
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 536,021
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.20 (d)

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