A Yiddish proverb says that "trouble brings experience, and experience brings wisdom." That could be the summary of this heartwarming, comical story about a rabbi who loves his synagogue and congregation.
Rabbi Ruben is woefully aware of his synagogue's age-related quirks. The kitchen sink leaks, the floors in the library creak, and the sanctuary is draughty. Illustrator Laurel Molk charmingly adds to the story line by showing, for instance, two girls in the library with big smiles on their faces stomping on the floor boards to make them squeak as loudly as possible.
Rabbi Ruben takes it upon himself to fix all these problems in some unique and homespun ways, like stuffing tablecloths in the cracks around the draughty sanctuary windows. Our favorite part of the book is when his wrench action unintentionally turns the sink's drip into flow and then into a spurt. He refuses help — "I know what to do" — and grabs "a pinch of challah dough from a rising loaf," pushing it into the tap. You can guess what eventually comes of that "repair"!
It's not until members of the congregation start giggling over some of his rudimentary fix-it efforts and the supposedly repaired sink erupts that he realizes he's going to need help from his very able congregants. Fortunately, by the story's end, he gains a kernel of wisdom: The practice of hospitality — in this case, making the synagogue a warm and welcoming place — often involves knowing how to avail yourself of the help, caring, and skills of others. "A home is about sharing," he finally admits.
This book suits reading ages of four to eight years old, though the pictures could readily engage younger children. It's told in such a way that a child who has never set foot in a Jewish synagogue could enjoy it with as much relish as one for whom that's spiritual home base.