The Patch­work Torah

Alli­son Ofanan­sky; Elsa Ori­ol, illus.
  • Review
By – June 6, 2014

In the tra­di­tion of the much beloved book, The Keep­ing Quilt by Patri­cia Polac­co, The Patch­work Torah teach­es us how Jews con­nect across time and place. Dur­ing the Holo­caust, David’s grand­fa­ther, a sofer (scribe), saves dam­aged Torah scrolls to repair some­day maybe.” As David grows and becomes a sofer too, he also holds on to dam­aged Torahs. His grand­daugh­ter asks why there are unused scrolls in his clos­et and she sug­gests that he put the undam­aged parts of each togeth­er to make a patch­work Torah.’

Through its serene, oil-paint­ed illus­tra­tions and warm lan­guage, The Patch­work Torah demon­strates the impor­tance of cycles in Judaism — the cycle of the read­ing of the Torah end­ing and begin­ning on the hol­i­day of Sim­chat Torah, the cycle of the genera­tions and re-cycling. It also takes read­ers on a quick trip across the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry in Amer­i­can Jew­ish life, from scrap dri­ves to the fight against Hitler to wel­com­ing refugees to Hur­ri­cane Katrina.

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 7 – 11 with Holo­caust references.

Paula Chaiken has worked in a vari­ety of capac­i­ties in the Jew­ish world — teach­ing in reli­gious school, curat­ing at the Sper­tus Muse­um and fundrais­ing for the Fed­er­a­tion — for more than twen­ty years. She also runs a bou­tique pub­lic rela­tions con­sult­ing firm and enjoys read­ing all sorts of books with her three sons.

Discussion Questions