The Eli­jah Door: A Passover Tale

Lin­da Leopold Strauss; Alexi Natchev, illus.
  • Review
By – August 7, 2012

A new folk­tale brim­ming with old coun­try taam in its sto­ry line and illus­tra­tions ris­es from the real­i­ties of shtetl life’s too close quar­ters. Root­ed in the cycle of annoy­ances that expand from angry griev­ances into an explo­sion beyond the repair of any­thing but true love, this off­beat, brisk sto­ry incorpo­rates fam­i­lies, roman­tic youths, rab­bis, and Passover Seders. The set­ting in a vil­lage that was some­times Poland, some­times Rus­sia reflects his­tor­i­cal real­i­ties. After years of shared Seders, neigh­bors Galin­sky and Lip­pa argue, then cut each oth­er off to the point where they shut win­dows and cut new doors so they do not have to see one anoth­er. Alas, their chil­dren wish to mar­ry. How to bring the fam­i­lies togeth­er when no one even recalls the truth of the argument’s claims? The wise rab­bi to the res­cue with his won­der­ful idea of expand­ing the Seder guest list until it is so big, tables must be set out­side each house until they meet in the mid­dle where the rab­bi and lovers will sit, thus reunit­ing the feud­ing folk. But what to do when they reach Elijah’s appear­ance in the ser­vice? Unlock the unused door! Thus begins a new tra­di­tion of an annu­al Seder set at one table in two hous­es with three doors, cel­e­brat­ing love and fam­i­ly, and hon­or­ing the prophet through the now famous Eli­jah door. Linoleum block plates reveal the poor shtetl, its angry inhab­i­tants, as well as wise ones, lov­ing ones, and every­day ones. The tale unfolds with wit and charm while it shares with chil­dren the pow­er of love and tra­di­tion. Rec­om­mend­ed at Passover or any time romance is in the air for read­ers age 5 – 8.

Read­ing Guide

» Down­load the Eli­jah Door Read­ing Guide from PJ Library

Ellen G. Cole, a retired librar­i­an of the Levine Library of Tem­ple Isa­iah in Los Ange­les, is a past judge of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards and a past chair­per­son of that com­mit­tee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excel­lence in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture. Ellen is the recip­i­ent of two major awards for con­tri­bu­tion to Juda­ic Librar­i­an­ship, the Fan­ny Gold­stein Mer­it Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroed­er Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. She is on the board of AJLSC.

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