Episode 68

No Place Like Home

  • 1:01:54
  • 2021
Sukkot is the Jewish holiday of temporary homes. And in our episode today we hear two very different stories - the first about one of Israel's most popular children's books and the second about a South Sudanese asylum seeker. But both of them are, deep down, about the same thing - making a home.
No Place Like Home

In different ways, we are all constantly searching for a place to call home. For some that home is physical, for others it’s spiritual, or intellectual, or communal. And no time of year spotlights that search more than the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, when we are literally commanded to leave our permanent homes and build new, temporary dwellings. So at a moment in history when so many people around the world – from Syria to Afghanistan to South Sudan – are leaving their homes and trying to grow new roots, we set out to explore the idea of making a home.

Prologue: Schach

Mishy Harman

Mishy Harman follows schach, or palm tree branches, all the way from a Jordan Valley date farm to Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Me’a Shearim and Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park. Along the way, he talks to a rabbi, a farmer and a gardener about building a sukkah.

Act I: Room for Rent

Naomi Schneider, Skyler Inman

Leah Goldberg is one of the most celebrated women in Israeli history. Heck, she’s even on the new 100-shekel bill. She was born 110 years ago, in the Prussian city of Königsberg (nowadays Kaliningrad, Russia), and died in Jerusalem at the age of 58. She was an author, a poet, a playwright, a critic, an editor, a columnist, a translator, a teacher and a beloved professor of comparative literature. Even though she’s been dead for more than half a century, she is rediscovered anew by each subsequent generation of Israelis. And that is due, in large part, to what is perhaps her most enduring legacy: the children’s book Dira LeHaskir, or Room for Rent. The book is a classic; one of the most popular Israeli children’s books of all time. Naomi Schneider and Skyler Inman joined Yoni Yahav as he read Goldberg’s masterpiece – in its new English translation – to his two daughters, 6-year-old Maayan and 4-year-old Yasmin.

Act II: A Land of Promises

Marie Röder

As is the case with many other refugees, it’s hard to know where to start Christina Bazia’s story. It could – presumably – begin in 1998, when her parents fled their native Sudan in search of a safer future. It could, alternatively, begin three years later – in Beirut – where Christina herself was born. Or else it could start in June 2007, in the back of a rickety pick-up truck speeding through the Sinai Desert, with a group of frightened asylum seekers crammed together underneath a bedsheet. And just as the story has many beginnings, it has many possible end points, too: Arad, Juba, Kampala and Yehud. Marie Röder tells the haunting tale of one woman’s quest to find a place to call home.


Zev Levi scored and sound-designed the episode with music from Blue Dot Sessions. Tal Blecharovitz composed the original music for Room for Rent. Sela Waisblum created the mix. Thanks to our dubbers, David Satran and Karni Arkin, and to Lea Millel-Forshtat, Douglas H. Johnson, Nan Galuak, Thomas Kon, Federica Sasso, Rotem Ariav, Sheila Lambert, Erica Frederick, Jeff Feig and Joy Levitt.

The end song, Slichot, was written by Leah Goldberg, arranged by Oded Lerer and performed by Yehudit Ravitz.