“For those that got away, the answer was ‘wherever.’ Initially, some of them went to Antwerp, and then all over. The correct answer was ‘elsewhere,’ because those who stayed and said, ‘we are modern, secular Austrian citizens, many of us veterans who fought for this country… and we believe our society has transcended things like pogroms that our grandparents had to deal with’… they ended up in Dachau.” — My friend from college, talking about his family
I thought of my friend while I was pulling books for a display about the Jewish holidays and holy days observed in the fall. One of his family members was found safety in Asia, like the boy in Shanghai Sukkah:
When I was growing up, my neighbors would build little shelters in the fall with roofs made of evergreen branches. I didn’t really understand why until I read All-of-a-kind Family, about a Jewish family with five girls. The next-to-last chapter describes building a succah (or sukkah), decorating it, and how the family eats and prays inside during the holiday. I liked the little detail that the family planned to keep it up after the holiday for the girls to use as a playhouse. (You can download books from the All-of-a-kind Family series from Axis360, CloudLibrary and OverDrive).
In college, I learned a little more. My friend Heather invited me for the first night of Sukkot. Jewish students and professors and their guests gathered inside the sukkah. The inside was decorated with colorful paper chains and little decorative gourds. Someone led prayers, and then we enjoyed a potluck. They told me it’s traditional to invite guests!
Another college experience that helped me learn more about Jewish culture was when folklore scholar and author Howard Schwartz came to visit. He told us some traditional Jewish folktales, and after each story, he would explain some of the details that listeners might have missed. He signed a favorite story collection my friend Sara brought from home and new books like The Day the Rabbi Disappeared. Fountaindale owns that book, and I like to include it in holiday displays.