Fairy Tales in Different Cultures--The Way Meat Loves Salt

In honor of Purim (a week late, but we were still celebrating Black History Month), we are looking at a Jewish version of Cinderella. This one takes place in Poland.
Map of Poland
A short bit about Poland and then some on the Jewish history in Poland. Poland is in Europe and is officially the Republic of Poland. It is the 69th largest country in the world and the 9th largest in Europe. Poland has a population around 38.5 million people making it the 34th most populous country in the world. The establishment of the Polish state is often identified with its ruler Mieszko I adopting Christianity in 966.  The kingdom of Poland was established in 1025. Over six million Polish citizens died in World War II. (Source)
Poland's Flag (Source)

Poland is a democracy with a president as its head of state. The president is elected by popular vote every five years. The government structure is centered on the Council of Ministers which is lead by the Prime Minister. In 2011, Prime Minister Donald Tusk became the first prime minister in Poland to ever be re-elected for a second term. (Source)

The history of Jews in Poland dates back over a millennium. For centuries Poland had the largest and most significant Jewish population in the world. This was due to religious tolerance and social autonomy.  During World War II, Nazi Germany managed to nearly completely destroy the Jewish Community in Poland. During World War II nearly three million Polish Jews died. Although Nazi Germany occupied Poland during the war, there was very little Polish collaboration with the Nazis. So Poland went from being thought of as the most tolerant country and being called "Paradise to Jews" to housing six concentration camps during the Holocaust including Auschwitz. (Source)

Now onto our book.  This week we will be looking at The Way Meat Loves Salt by Nina Jaffe. This is one of two Jewish Cinderella stories I found and will be sharing with you. This story starts with describing a rabbi's family of three daughters. The oldest becomes very good at needlework and enjoys making challah covers. The middle daughter loves to sing and spends the day singing. The youngest daughter, Mireleh, is a dreamy girl and often daydreams looking out the window. When her father comes home she runs out to greet him every night.
Challah Bread (and dough)
One day the rabbi is wondering how much each of his daughters loves him. This thought is troubling him and when he goes home he asks each one. The oldest tells him she loves him like diamonds. The middle daughter says like silver and gold. Mireleh tells him she loves him the way meat loves salt. He is very insulted by this and kicks her out of the house. She wanders off out of their small town and meets a man with a long white beard and two pieces of wood on a road.

This man tells her not to worry and advises her to go to the home of Rabbi Yitskhok ben Levi of Lublin. Before she leaves he gives her the smaller of his sticks and tells her to tap it three times and state what she wishes and it will appear. He gives her his blessings and then disappears. She finds the house of the rabbi. He and his family (wife and son) try to find out what is wrong, but she is too upset to talk and just weeps. They decide to let her stay in the attic since she looks homeless and poor. The next day the family goes to the synagogue. When they return home Mireleh overhears them discussing the wedding they will be attending the next day and that they must leave her home. She watches them leave and then runs to the attic and taps her magic stick asking for a gown and appropriate accessories to attend the wedding and she heads off to it. When she arrives the ceremony is over and the reception is going on. The rabbi's son asks her to dance. She does, but will not talk to him or even tell her his name. They dance all night until the rabbi's son sneaks off to think about how to get her to talk. When she leaves he has left tar and pitch on the step and she loses a slipper. He then takes the slipper through all the villages and towns looking for the girl it fits. Of course he does not find her.

He returns home and tells his parents how he cannot find her, but he wants to marry her. Mireleh asks to try it on and he becomes a bit angry with her, but she grabs it and pulls out the matching slipper. Than she runs upstairs and puts on the gown. Now he is very confused and does not know what to do. That night the prophet, Elijah (the old man that advised Mireleh), visits the rabbi and his wife in their dreams and tells them that their son must keep his word of marriage to Mireleh. 

The next day, Mireleh takes the son to the attic and shows him the stick and its magic explaining that she was blessed when it was given to her. Realizing she has been blessed, he decided to marry her. They plan the wedding and while the cooks are preparing the wedding feast Mireleh goes and tells them not to add any salt to any of the dishes.

The Jewish wedding takes place under the huppah and the groom steps on the glass and the guests all yell Mazel Tov. Then at the reception Mireleh wonders among the guests to make sure they are all happy. She greets one in the darkness who looks unhappy. He is a rabbi from a small town. He mentions that the food does not taste good--it is missing salt. She reminds him how he threw her out of his house when she said she loved him like meat loves salt. At that they embrace and her family joins them. All is forgiven and they are happy they were happy to have the family reunited. Then Elijah makes another appearance blessing the happy couple. He disappears again before Mireleh can thank him.
So our crafts for this book besides our clothespin doll include some coloring pages which we used water color paints on and we decided to do some salt painting. We started by making a design with white glue and then sprinkling salt on it. We basically followed the instructions that were shared at a Sharing Saturday a few weeks ago by Making Boys Men. However, I do not think we let it dry enough because we had trouble painting the salt. Then I remembered someone doing it with food coloring, but wasn't really sure where or if I had really seen it. I pulled out our food coloring and we loved watching the drops spread through the salt.

The top one was mine which was the title of the book and that it was a Jewish Polish Cinderella. The bottom one is Hazel's which is just a design. We really enjoyed making them!

Here are our links to the coloring pages:
I have not been doing my form for the last few Cinderellas. Is anyone missing them? If so, let me know and I'll do them.


  1. I really love the idea of learning about fairy tales from other cultures! Great activities too! I'm visiting from Say It Two Ways Thursdays! :)

  2. Very interesting version of a common fairy tale! Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!


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