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Using Literature to Build Jewish Values in Your Children

Let's go "Beyond the Book" with Latkes, Latkes Good To Eat.

Ages 3-6

Another European village, another poor family, another Chanukah and another magic frying pan. An older sister left alone with her four brothers goes out to gather wood and meets a woman who she helps.

As a reward, she gets a magic frying pan and the the woman's magic words to make latkes in the pan. They don't ask for steak and caviar, just latkes and more latkes! This is a classic story line, the original being "The Fisherman and His Wife." In that story, the wife goes from hut to house to palace to wanting to be the ruler of the sun and moon - she ends up back in her hut, because she is NEVER satisfied. Being satisfied with what one receives is a vital lesson for all children.

The memories of Jewish holidays include the taste and smells of traditional foods. My mother at the age of 85 still recalled her mother's buckwheat latkes "like it was yesterday!" The memories of food lasso the past and pulls it into our present. Reminisce with your children about family gatherings from your past and what it was like to be a child in the "olden times".

Like this story's secular counterpart, only one person knows the secret words. The brothers try to do it themselves, and as in Von Goethe's poem "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", they cannot stop the frying pan from making latkes. The story ends with the town's people sharing in the food and the old lady joining them.

In our family, my father saved a horse from dying and got a truck load of chickens from the grateful farmer. My grandmother sent my brothers all over the neighborhood distributing chickens for Shabbos.

Find some event in your family's past, so that you can say to your child, " that's the kind of family WE are - a SHARING family and that is what has been passed on to YOU." - Now, that's what you call an inheritance!

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