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World Religion
Sukkot Surprise

Sukkot Surprise
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   4.52

     challenging words:    ha-ba, proverbs, stapled, sukkah, toolbox, chuckle, crinkly, protest, smug, palms, easily, synagogue, thoughtful, crispy, pane, otherwise
     content words:    Grandpa Isaac, Maybe Sukkot, Promised Land, Every Jewish, Seven-year-old Joseph

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Sukkot Surprise
By Colleen Messina

1     Jacob lay in bed. The warm smell of roasting pumpkin seeds reminded Jacob that it was Sukkot! His mother and younger brother, Joseph, got up early to make a stuffed pumpkin. Joseph still liked to scoop out the inside slimy goop with his bare hands. Then, they roasted the seeds. They mixed the roasted seeds, raisins, and chocolate chips and put the mix inside the pumpkin, which was lined with foil. It was Jacob's favorite Sukkot treat.
2     Jacob felt only mildly excited about Sukkot this year. He thought about the autumn Jewish festival as he rolled out of bed. He looked out his window at the crispy leaves that scraped against the pane like orange corn flakes. Sukkot was fun. They ate great food for nine days! Grandpa Isaac and the cousins came over. They went to their synagogue. After the service, they all carried palms, willow branches, and citrus fruits and sang songs. It was a happy time!
3     Jacob always felt a little smug in school when his teachers began to talk about Thanksgiving. Jacob secretly thought that the Pilgrims read about Sukkot in the Bible. Maybe Sukkot inspired the Pilgrims to have their own harvest festival! He never said that to his Christian friends.
4     Sukkot, which is also called the Feast of Tabernacles, reminds Jews about how the Israelites wandered in the desert. The Israelites finally reached the Promised Land after forty years. They became farmers and grew green olives, golden wheat, and purple grapes.
5     Jacob went downstairs. He sleepily poured some cereal in a bowl. Soon his grandpa would arrive to build their sukkah. Jacob, who was now fourteen, usually just watched. The sukkah was a little house. It symbolized the wooden huts the Jews built in their fields during their harvest. The sukkah protected them in sudden storms. Every Jewish family eats their Sukkot meals in the sukkah to remember their ancestors.
6     Grandpa and Jacob's father always built their sukkah in the back yard. The sukkah was only about 8 feet by 8 feet when it was done, but it was cozy. It was perfect for a family picnic! After the sukkah was finished, everyone decorated it. They hung plastic fruit on the walls, which were made out of blankets stapled on to a wooden frame. They propped up corn stalks around the door. Tree branches made the roof. They put pictures on the walls inside.
7     The family hung a sign outside the little house that said Baruhh ha-ba. The words meant "welcome" in Hebrew. Jacob felt a pang when he saw his father's neat Hebrew lettering. His father had died last year.
8     "When is Grandpa coming?" Jacob asked. Grandpa was full of jokes. His crinkly eyes exploded with wit.

Paragraphs 9 to 16:
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