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.
Penina Grossberg is an educator and teacher mentor.