A poor teacher and his wife worry that they won’t be able to afford to celebrate the Shavuot holiday with traditional blintzes and hatch a savings plan with good intentions but ridiculous results.
Gitele and Yankl are residents of Chelm, populated by the wisest fools. They take an old, dirty, wheeled trunk, cut a hole in the top, and vow to each throw in a coin every day, thus collecting enough to shop for and make blintzes. But left alone, each spouse relies on the other to do the saving, so when the trunk is opened at the end of two weeks, only the original two coins are inside. An argument ensues, and in the scuffle, the couple ends up in the trunk, which then closes and begins to roll down the hill. As it approaches the synagogue, Gitele and Yankl’s screams from within cause the townsfolk, comically depicted with wide necks and long noses, to fear that a dybbuk, or demon, is inside. The trunk is opened and the disoriented couple’s story prompts the rabbi to forbid a teacher living on a hill with a trunk on wheels from making blintzes. While no explanation of either the holiday or the reason for its customary meal is given, the absurdity of the story and its nonsensical conclusion will be appreciated by those familiar with these Eastern European noodlehead tales.
It’s hard to go wrong with a story about Chelm. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-6)