The Patchwork Torah

Allison Ofanansky, Author, Elsa Oriol, Illustrator
Allison Ofanansky, illus. by Elsa Oriol. Kar-Ben, $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4677-0426-7
Reviewed on: 03/31/2014
Release date: 03/01/2014
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-1-4677-0427-4
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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.)
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