“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:

Shanghai Sukkah by Heidi Smith Hyde; illustrated by Jing Jing Tsong

To escape the Nazis, a young Jewish boy named Marcus and his family move to Shanghai, where Marcus and his new friend Liang build a sukkah on the roof. Together they celebrate Sukkot and the Chinese Moon Festival. This book is available from hoopla.

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.

Another excellent choice for older kids is Jewish Holiday Treats: Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family. The back cover has the cutest little gingerbread sukkah with sprigs of rosemary or something, whereas a full-sized sukkah would use pine branches for the roof.

We also have plenty of picture books you can borrow!

Is it Sukkot Yet? by Chris Barash; pictures by Alessandra Psacharopulo

As fall descends and animals collect food for the winter, a family begins preparations for Sukkot. It’s time to build the sukkah, put up decorations and gather together. With our lulav and etrog, let’s celebrate this season of rejoicing with family and friends!

Here Is the World: A Year of Jewish Holidays by Lesléa Newman; Illustrated by Susan Gal

The year’s range of Jewish holidays and celebrations are presented in this repeating, rhyming chant that features key succinct elements for each. This is one of our newest books and includes holiday recipes and crafts.

Maya Prays for Rain by Susan Tarcov; illustrated by Ana Ochoa

It’s a sunny fall day in Maya’s neighborhood, and all her neighbors are busy with outdoor activities. But Maya learns that today is Shemini Atzeret, when the Jewish community prays for rain, which puts her in a quandary. Will her neighbor’s plans be ruined? This title is also available on CloudLibrary and hoopla.

Sammy Spider’s First Sukkot by Sylvia Rouss; illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn

Sammy Spider learns about the festival of Sukkot by watching the Shapiro family build their sukkah. This is one of many books about Sammy Spider, and it is also available from hoopla.

Tikvah Means Hope by Patricia Polacco

After a devastating fire in the hills of Oakland, California, a Jewish family and their neighbors find symbols of hope amidst the ashes during Sukkot.

You can find more picture books in an eBook format by searching for the words “sukkot” or “sukkah” in CloudLibrary, hoopla or OverDrive.