Hil­lel Builds a House

Shoshana Lep­on, Ange­les Ruiz (illus.)

  • Review
By – September 10, 2020

Young Hil­lel loves to build hous­es to play in and uses what­ev­er sup­plies he can find to indulge in this favorite activ­i­ty. A huge card­board box makes a per­fect play­house, and a pile of pil­lows becomes an excel­lent make-believe fort. A tree house pro­vides out­door fun, and even nestling under his father’s tal­it while they are in syn­a­gogue feels cozy and warm as it evokes the feel­ing of a com­fort­able home. But every time Hil­lel tries to snug­gle up in his very own house, a hol­i­day seems to inter­fere with his plans. He can’t light Hanukkah can­dles safe­ly in a card­board box and his moth­er needs to use the pil­lows for her guests to lean on dur­ing the Passover Seder; some­thing pre­vents him from play­ing in his per­son­al house at every turn of the cal­en­dar page. Hav­ing his own house just does­n’t seem to be a work­able plan. He is dis­ap­point­ed time and again.

Final­ly, the hol­i­day of Sukkot arrives and Hil­lel real­izes to his joy that Sukkot is the per­fect hol­i­day for house build­ing. He and his father hap­pi­ly build their fam­i­ly sukkah, a tem­po­rary hut with a nat­ur­al roof in which Jews reside dur­ing the hol­i­day to com­mem­o­rate the huts their ances­tors built in the desert on their way from slav­ery to free­dom. Hil­lel can dec­o­rate the sukkah, share meals with his fam­i­ly inside its walls, and thor­ough­ly enjoy the delights of the sea­son. The right hol­i­day and the right house come togeth­er in a per­fect merg­ing of tra­di­tion and fun. Sukkot is the ide­al hol­i­day for build­ing a house.

This brand new edi­tion of an old favorite has all new col­or art­work which gives the sto­ry a fun, con­tem­po­rary, humor­ous twist. The sto­ry works well as a joy­ful read-aloud while prepar­ing for Sukkot or at any time of the year.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions