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Using Literature to Build Jewish Values in Your Children

Let's go "Beyond the Book" with Perfect Porridge.

Ages 3-6

Perfect Porridge is a story about the universal grandparents-our grandparents and great-grandparents. It is a universal story of Jews who had to flee and adapt to a new county. War tests the courage of soldiers and Bubba Hinda and Zayda Mendel are the quintessential soldiers. Soldiers travel light and only take what is necessary for their survival -they don't question the general, but rather, they plan strategic moves to defeat the enemy.

Zayda Mendel takes his holy book and Bubba takes her candlesticks and her big iron pot. With these tangible possessions they set out to make a new life in a foreign land with an unknown future. What they DO KNOW, however, is they have what they need. The goals for their lives will be attained through books, a pot and candlesticks. How? Candlesticks bring in the Shabbos, with books you can bring in ideas and with a pot you can bring in the hungry! Candles fill the house with light and books fill the mind with ideas and a pot fills an empty stomach.


Bubba goes to the market, and she leaves Zayda at home because she fears the anti-Semitism of the towns-people. She asks Zayda to make the porridge for the hungry she finds in the village. She will bring them home so he can teach them Jewish philosophy and Torah.

Zayda says cavalierly, "How hard can it be to make porridge?" In his first attempt, he does not check the grain for stones and other foreign objects. Bubba feeds it to the cow (it shouldn't go to waste). In his second time around, he checks the grain carefully and then forgets to turn on the fire. Third time is not "the charm" he checks the grain, turns on the fire, but this time forgets to stir. Bubba takes the hard mixture, adds an egg, and makes it into delicious latkes. (It shouldn't go to waste) To go beyond the book, with Perfect Porridge, is to explain how Bubba doesn't waste, and in this "disposable" world of ours, it is quite a lesson.


To go beyond the book is to realize that the porridge may not be perfect -but the relationship between Bubba and Zayda is-she WHISPERS when she discusses his mistakes, so he is not made to feel foolish or embarrassed-she minimizes his errors by somehow salvaging the porridge. Hadn't he said, "cooking porridge, how hard can it be?" She wisely knows that everything that is said need not be remembered! Bubba could have been upset at his inexperienced blunders, but instead teaches us lesson in patience and compassion and the preservation of self-esteem. To say "I will right your wrongs quietly and leave you dignity" is a lesson in relationships!


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