Local Author’s New Book Is a Humorous Look at Children’s ‘Why Chromosome’


For decades, Art Linkletter made millions of Americans laugh by pointing out in vivid detail all of the different ways that “Kids say the darndest things.” Now, Ilene Munetz Pachman has taken that maxim and updated it to reflect how Jewish kids ask the darndest things.

For her new book of the same title, she has compiled some of these “kid-icisms,” as she calls them, to share some of the funniest — and sometimes serious — questions Jewish kids have asked.
Pachman, who lives in Bucks County, taught preschool at Ohev Shalom and Shir Ami for many years. In her time as an educator, she picked up a few gems from her students.
Her favorite “darndest” moment came when she was teaching about Chanukah, and she asked her students if they knew what a miracle was.
One youngster raised her hand and asked, “Is a miracle where we live? The United States of a miracle?”
But Pachman didn’t have to go all the way to school to hear some of these questions. At home, her two sons would also ask questions that made her pause.
“The idea came from when my children were in preschool,” she recalled. “I was fascinated and even entertained by some of their remarks and I would share them with friends, and friends would share their children’s comments with me and I found them also entertaining.”
When her son, Scott, was 3 years old, for example, he acted as the officiant for the wedding of two of his stuffed animals. During the ceremony, he asked: “Do you, Rover, take Cuddles to be your awful wedded wife?”
She began taking note of some of the questions her students asked and other parents caught wind of the idea and joined in.
“Like-minded parents were eager to share their own little gems with me as well,” she said. “I wrote down the comments of my children and I started writing down the comments of my friends’ children as well. I became an archives for these ‘kid-icisms.’ ”
The 50-page book “reflects funny comments and also poignant and sometimes serious comments,” but the balance is on the more humorous moments.
It is divided into sections, from “biblical and liturgical,” “holy days,” and “holidays and vacations” to “serious worries and matters,” “romantic,” “linguistic,” “colorful and bright,” and “clean and innocent.”
She hopes that readers, especially parents, will get a laugh from the questions and maybe even relate to it in their own lives.
“I think they’ll smile and they will relate — probably a lot of them will relate to their own children’s gems,” Pachman said. “Some of the others will be surprises, happy surprises, that will give them a lift and make them smile. Some of them will make them laugh out loud.”
For her, the experience was a way to become a better listener, which may prove educational as she learns from her grandchildren who are 6 and 9 and say something “amazing” every day.
“I think children have more to say than we realize, and are keen observers,” she said. “They can be very articulate and show a lot of insight as well as humor.”
For her, the Jewish factor comes into play because, as she humorously put it, Jews have an extra “why-chromosome”: They answer every question with another question like “Why?” or “Why not?”
She has especially seen that through the way children emulate their parents and teachers.
“Jews have an insatiable desire to better understand the world and the universe — what life’s all about,” Pachman said.
The Jewish people like to “learn more about and better understand issues and ideas, the world and the universe, universal ideals, human nature and the ineffable nature of God,” she said, which she also details in her introduction to the book.
However, she added, the stories also reflect Jewish values and ideals instilled in children starting when they’re very young, citing tzedakah, mitzvot, kindness and compassion.
The anecdotes include the child’s first name and their age when they asked their question.
A few examples include:
A hopeful 3-year-old Eric asks, “Is it a really big mitzvah if I give my brother all my string beans?”
“Do bullets have blood in them?” questions 3-year-old Benjamin.
During the first seder, as 4-year-old Mindy opens the door for Elijah (the ancient prophet) she looks out and asks, “What color car is he driving?”
“I also wanted to listen better so I could not miss these pearls of wisdom offered by the children,” she said. “It’s surprising how much we can learn about young children by really listening to them, their perspective and their fears and their joys.” Children see and hear things so uniquely and differently from adults, the way they interpret or misinterpret what they hear can come out so innocently or insightful.”
Contact: mstern@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0740


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