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.
פְּעִילֻיּוֹת בְּעִקְבוֹת הַקְּרִיאָה
“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.