CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 2. . . .September 12, 2014
The smell that permeates this building is Goldie Simcah’s famous “Cholent”, a fragrant meat stew that she prepares every Shabbat. It is a meal prepared lovingly, over many hours, not in a hurried “chik chak” way, before Shabbat actually arrives. From the first page, readers become aware that the smell of this cholent is a joyful experience for Goldie’s neighbours, and all are affected by this Saturday treat, especially because of Goldie’s generosity. The neighbours are invited to partake and share in the special Shabbat meal and to give their opinions on “what makes Goldie’s cholent so delicious”. Goldie explains how the tradition of preparing and getting ready for this holiday was so important for her observant grandparents. And, although she, herself, “doesn’t celebrate Shabbat exactly as her grandma did”, she goes through the preparation to honour her grandmother’s memory. The real secret to this tasty concoction is revealed by Goldie to be the celebration of Shabbat itself!
One Saturday, the neighbours notice that the wonderful aroma of cholent cooking is missing, and it negatively affects all in the building. They discover that Goldie was too sick to cook the stew. Alas, everyone knows that you can’t make this dish in a chik chak, hurried way. The neighbours come to the rescue in the most collaborative and inspiring way. text
The book ends with the recipe, a vegetarian version, and some additional suggestions to help make this meal unique.
Chik Chak Shabbat is a tasty dish, itself, one that emphasizes the importance of tradition in one’s life, the spirit of sharing, and it highlights the relationship with others of diverse ethnic backgrounds, coming together to help. Rich vocabulary and choice descriptions add to the flavour. The text is enhanced by lively and humorously drawn expressive characters done in oil and collage. The emphasis of the smell wafting through the apartment building is whimsically done, and the colourful inhabitants add to the joyfulness of this book.
It is hoped that parents and teachers will pause to stress the idea of how a community can unite to save the day through cooperation, sharing and connection.
Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.