Written by: Jacky Levy
Illustrated by: Emy Sfard
Sweet Aleph-Bet is a story within a story. It is the tale of Gal and her father, Ruhama the kindergarten teacher, and the children she teaches – and also the account of sweet Raphael the Sage, who lived many years ago in a faraway land. The honey-tasting aleph-bet connects the past to the present, Gal and Grandpa Raphael.
“A person only learns from a place his heart desires” (Talmud Bavli, Avoda Zara tractate, 19a)
Children’s first encounter with the alphabet is an important milestone in their development, and an indication that they are reaching a degree of maturity. The ability to read and write makes vast worlds accessible to a people, and allows them to acquire knowledge, whilst gaining a better understanding of themselves and their reality.
Throughout the generations, children’s first encounter with the Hebrew alphabet was celebrated in many places. Such festiveness turns learning into a positive and joyful experience to be remembered by children for many a year. Traditions varied depending on communities’ countries of origin, but all sought to emphasize the sweet taste of study.
Proposed Family Activities:
You may want to look at the illustrations together, and compare Gal’s home and kindergarten to the area in which Grandpa Raphael lived so many years ago. Together you may enjoy imagining what your life would have been like had you lived in another place, at another time. If you happen to have old pictures documenting the roots of your own family, you could show them to your child, and try to identify your family members together, as well as the places in which they lived back then, and now.
Does your child know why they were so named? Having read this book together, you may want to share the meaning of their name with them, and the story leading up to choosing it for them. You could also tell them what made your parents so name you.
Do you know the tune to the song Our Village Todgha by Yehoshua Sobol performed by music group Habreira Hativ'it (The Natural Selection)? Perhaps you would like to sing it together with your child.
Just like Gal, many children enjoy listening to stories about the past. Do you remember any festive occasion from your days in kindergarten and school? Perhaps you could share your learning-related childhood memories and family traditions with your child.
Young children learn from enjoyable activities, such as licking honey-dripping letters. There are many ways of teaching the alphabet: you could put names and words together from various materials, cut out letters from newspapers, identify familiar letters that appear on signs and packages, play word games, and so on. The most important thing is to have fun while you learn!
Sweet Aleph-Bet is the last book on the PJ Library books list for this year. We hope you have enjoyed the books, and wish you an enjoyable summer, and a smooth beginning in your new kindergarten or school!
A recipe for sweet Aleph-Bet letters
2/3 cup of soft butter
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
- Whisk the butter and sugar until you get a somewhat fluffy batter. Fold in the egg and vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Combine the two mixtures and knead until dough is crumbly. Knead crumbs into a ball, cover it with saran wrap, and keep refrigerated for an hour.
- Pre-heat oven to medium heat (180°C).
- Flour your worktop and use a rolling pin to flatten your doughball. Use letter-shaped cookie cutters to cut cookies out of the dough.
- Place the cookies on a baking pan, and bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until edges turn golden.