Pump­kin Pie for Sigd: A Hol­i­day Tale

Jen­nifer Tzivia MacLeod, Denise Daman­ti (Illus­tra­tor)

  • Review
By – November 10, 2021

A new pic­ture book with charm­ing illus­tra­tions in vibrant col­ors intro­duces read­ers to a Jew­ish hol­i­day many will not know, how it is cel­e­brat­ed, and the way immi­grants enrich these traditions.

This hol­i­day, Sigd, marks the day God first spoke to Moses at the burn­ing bush. Jews in Ethiopia hon­or this day, and they brought the hol­i­day to Israel when they arrived there. Israel adopt­ed Sigd as a nation­al hol­i­day. Cel­e­bra­tions include fast­ing, recit­ing Psalms, read­ing Torah, and a fes­tive meal with singing and danc­ing. The date of the cel­e­bra­tion is very close to America’s Thanks­giv­ing Day, which is not an Israeli hol­i­day. These details set up a gen­tle plot that explains the hol­i­day to readers.

Mad­die and her Amer­i­can fam­i­ly recent­ly made Aliyah; Mad­die is home­sick, and she yearns to have a big meal she can share with extend­ed fam­i­ly. Israelis, though, do not cel­e­brate Thanks­giv­ing. Maddie’s Ethiopi­an school friend, Orly, offers her a warm alter­na­tive in Sigd and invites her to cel­e­brate with her fam­i­ly. Maddie’s first menu idea is pump­kin pie, but none of the var­i­ous immi­grants in their apart­ment build­ing know about pump­kins. They sug­gest squash as an alter­na­tive, and so it goes. Each ingre­di­ent in pump­kin pie receives a sub­sti­tute from the var­i­ous immi­grant neigh­bors. Mad­die and her dad cook with Orly, then take their dish to Orly’s big fam­i­ly cel­e­bra­tion, where the table groans with tons of tra­di­tion­al Sigd foods. Mad­die asks Orly to try their new pump­kin pie” and the read­ers can tell that polite Orly does not like it.

Mad­die does not get to cel­e­brate Amer­i­can Thanks­giv­ing in Israel, but she does learn about a new Jew­ish hol­i­day for all to cel­e­brate with love, joy and thoughts of Moses that last even beyond Passover.

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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