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February 14, 2015

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A few days ago I was standing at Broadway at 112th St. getting ready to cross - snow, ice, notwithstanding. Turned to see a man holding baby in a snuggly - he is an acquaintance from the neighborhood - someone I often run into at the local deli, Samad's which happens to be owned and run by Lebanese Druze Americans - so I have the pleasure of hearing Arabic on a daily basis [did study the language - it's cousin to Hebrew, which I do speak, but hard! Many more verb forms - still I can say a few key greetings - "sabah al-kher" (good morning) - "min-fahdlahk" (please), "shukrahn" (thank you) and one children's song]. Waiting for the light to turn, I smiled at the baby - he was wearing cap with earlaps - looked to be about 8 months old - and dad said: "His name is Amir." Light turns green, we start to walk. "Amir, that's a great name." Dad continues: "Did you know that the English word: "admiral" is from the Arabic: "emir - ah-hal" [pardon transliteration, it's not perfect]. No, I didn't know. "Emir - means a leader." Now we are across the street - and dad [who by now had reminded me of his name - "Isam"] says: "There are many words in English that come from Arabic." "And in Spanish too." - We smile and wave - he to Samad's, Amir in tow, me to work - thinking about words and connections.

Selected Works

picture book
"Mendel the peddler and his hard-working wife are so poor they can't buy a single potato for Hanukkah but, miraculously, their daughters fall asleep contented each night after smelling the delicious aroma of latkes...A winning tale, unusually well told and presented". (for purchase)
Folktale picture book
"Glowing colors, stylized figures... are the hallmarks of the eye-catching art, while the spare, clipped prose makes this a folktale beginning readers can tackle". - SLJ (for purchase)
"Children will enjoy the triumph of the outcast as well as the loving connections between the generations and between the stories." -Booklist (for purchase)
Folklore collection
Recounting ten myths about drums and drummers from around the globe, Jaffe shows readers both the universal power of drums and the richness of folk traditions. Patakín brings rhythm to life -- on the page! (for purchase)
Folktale anthology
" This fine collection of folktales underscoring differing cultural values and way of considering justice...seem particulary timely for families with school-age children". -New York Times Book Review (for purchase)