Rather Laugh Than Cry: Sto­ries From a Has­sidic Household

Mal­ka Zipora
  • Review
By – February 24, 2012
Mal­ka Zipo­ra (a pseu­do­nym) is the moth­er of twelve chil­dren in a Has­sidic fam­i­ly liv­ing in Mon­tre­al. She orig­i­nal­ly wrote these sto­ries for her community’s mag­a­zines. In the pref­ace to this col­lec­tion, she explains that her sto­ries cen­ter around issues that I dis­cussed, laughed … about with my friends as we sat on park bench­es nurs­ing our babies, clean­ing their faces of the sand they ate…My sto­ries were tid­bits of my life, with a fair amount of exag­ger­a­tion for the ben­e­fit of a laugh.” While she regards her home as a fortress” for pre­serv­ing tra­di­tion, she opens a win­dow into that fortress, offer­ing glimpses of a bustling house­hold imbued with Jew­ish val­ues and strewn with toys. A suc­c­ah that sat­is­fies com­plex legal stan­dards for con­struc­tion is erect­ed just in time. Her own recipe for chal­lah is inter­spersed with notes about find­ing the baby’s paci­fi­er and paci­fy­ing squab­bling sib­lings. Her dai­ly chal­lenges of moth­er­ing, though described here in a par­tic­u­lar con­text, are famil­iar and, at times, her humor about triv­ial events seems forced. Laugh­ing with the author on her park bench might be more refresh­ing than read­ing her book.

Discussion Questions