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Using Literature to Build Jewish Values in Your Children

Let's go "Beyond the Book" with Latkes and Applesauce.

Ages 2-5

Like so many other Jewish stories, this one takes place in a village in Europe, many years ago. The family is hungry. An early snow has covered up the ground. There is no way to harvest the family's meager crop of potatoes - so no latkes. The apple tree looks bare - so no applesauce! However, this family does not dwell on the negative. Rather, they sing and play dreidel and count their blessings. They are together in mind and spirit.

A stray dog and cat are invited into the warm house. Food is shared with the starving animals. On the last day of Chanukah, the dog goes out and digs up potatoes - now latkes can be made. They call the dog Latke.

The cat gets stuck climbing the apple tree and when the father climbs up to save it, he finds apples - now applesauce can be made-they name the cat Applesauce.

This book shows goodness and kindness . The family is rewarded in kind, with what it needs most - food! But we don't often see such an immediate, tangible reward for doing what we know is right. Of all the commandments in the Torah only 2 are directly connected with a reward:

  • The first is that we must send the mother bird away before taking her eggs, so that she does not witness our actions
  • The second commands us to honor our father and mother. For both of these two mitzvahs, the reward is long life.

But what is the reward for the remaining commandments or any good deed? We must teach our children that the reward for a good deed is the DEED ITSELF. Through this story, we can introduce the idea that we might NEVER even see the result of our kindness towards others. The family took in the stray animals from the cold, not knowing that these two small creatures would eventually lead the family to the food they needed.

Communicate to you child that they might NEVER even be acknowledged for the kindness they bestow on others. Nor may they even know the ultimate effect that their kindness may have. That doesn't eliminate the certainty that we are forever rewarded for our kindness, even in intangible ways.

A conversation with your child about his or her name follows naturally from this book. After all, the dog and cat get their names (Latkes and Applesauce) for a reason. We are known by our name and to find out why you selected that particular name for your child makes for much enjoyment, as well as "shared history"!

Buy the book!

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