By Kadia Molodowsky

In her lifetime, Kadia Molodowsky was a respected editor, educator, and prolific writer across genres and is remembered in particular for her vivid verse and poetry, some of it for children. An advocate for women’s artistic expression, her poetry deals with themes such as poverty, working-class life, and the place of women in Jewish religious and artistic traditions. She received the prestigious Itsik Manger Prize in 1971.

Molodowsky’s lighthearted poem “Martsepanes” (appearing in various collections of her works for children) follows the uncompromising Khane in her quest for מאַרצעפּאַנעס. At first, it seems her efforts will be in vain, since מאַרצעפּאַנעס in Yiddish are like ambrosia in English: a mythical delicacy, the proverbial essence of culinary delight—but very hard to find in a restaurant. Nevertheless, Khane remains undaunted and finds a way to cook up the impossible.

Before reading the poem, take a look at the words pictured here. 

martsepanes vocabulary illustration

הײדעלעך (diminutive of הײַדן)
cooked buckwheat grains

Fill in the blanks with words from the illustration above for sentences 1-6. Write only the word itself—articles have already been provided where necessary. Use each word once. There may be more than one correct answer for each blank.

Use your keyboard or the one on-screen to fill in the blanks, then click the "check answers" button to see how you did. Items highlighted green are correct. Items highlighted orange are incorrect. Items highlighted blue are correct, though misspelled.


1. אין דער פֿרי גײ איך אין צו  מעקערס.

2. די מעקערס זײַנען קלײן װי !

3. נאָך מיטאָג עס איך זופּ מיט .

4.די מאַמע עסט מיט און פֿלײש.

5. אין אָװנט גײען מיר אין פּאַרק. די מאַמע זאָגט, „גיב אַ קוק אױף דעם אַלטן .

6. ער איז זײער , אָבער ער האָט נאָך שײנע גרינע בלעטער, און עס הענגט פֿון אים אַראָפּ אַ .“


Read the poem below in order to answer the final questions 7-10
קלײן  גראָב  אַלט  דין :Use each of following adjectives once

7. דער טאַטע איז .

8. די מאַמע איז .

9. די קינדער זײַנען װי באָב.

10. די באָבע איז .

Now read the poem to fill in adjectives for sentences 7-10 in the quiz above.
Hover with your mouse or tap the words in gold to see a translation. 


קאַדיע מאָלאָדאָװסקי

געװען אַ טאַטע מיט אַ מאַמע.
דער טאַטע איז דין,
די מאַמע איז גראָב,
און קינדער װי באָב.

װיל אײנס עסן הײדעלעך,
דאָס צװײטע קנײדעלעך,
און די אױסטראַכטערקע חנה
װיל אַ מאַרצעפּאַנע.

װײס ניט קײנער װוּ די מאַרצעפּאַנעס קריגן.
װײס ניט קײנער װוּ האָט עס צו ליגן.

זאָגט דער טאַטע:
מאַרצעפּאַנעס װאַקסן אױף אַ בױם, 
גלײַך אַן עפּל, גלײַך אַ באַר און גלײַך אַ פֿלױם.

זאָגט די מאַמע:
מאַרצעפּאַנעס קױפֿט מען אין די קראָמען.

זאָגט די שװעסטער׃
מאַרצעפּאַנעס װאַקסן װי די שװאָמען. 

און די באָבע אַלט און אײַנגעבױגן: 
—נישט געהערט פֿון מאַרצעפּאַנעס קײן מאָל.

נישט געשטױגן,
נישט געפֿלױגן[1].


kadye molodovski

geven a tate mit a mame.
der tate iz din,
di mame iz grob,
un kinder vi bob.

vil eyns esn heydelekh,
dos tsveyte kneydelekh,
un di oystrakhterke khane
vil a martsepane.

veys nit keyner vu di martsepanes krign.
veys nit keyner vu hot es tsu lign.

zogt der tate:
martsepanes vaksn af a boym,
glaykh an epl, glaykh a bar un glaykh a floym.

zogt di mame:
martsepanes koyft men in di kromen.

zogt di shvester:
martsepanes vaksn vi di shvomen.

un di bobe alt un ayngeboygn:
nisht gehert fun martsepanes keyn mol.
nisht geshtoygn,
nisht gefloygn[1].      

[1] נישט געשטױגן, נישט געפֿלױגן 
crazy, preposterous (lit. didn't ascend, didn't fly)
This idiom is commonly thought to have originated from an expression of skepticism regarding Jesus’s ascension (and possibly that of Moses and Elijah as well)—whatever the speaker is responding to is about as believable, in a traditional Jewish world-view, as that Jesus ascended to heaven. According to some scholars, however, the saying comes from an older idiom about birds (rather than prophets) taking flight. For details, see volumes two and three of YIVO’s seminal Filologishe shriftn.

This exercise appears on page 206-209 in the Yiddish Book Center's textbook In eynem by Asya Vaisman Schulman and Jordan Brown, with Mikhl Yashinsky. Learn more about the book here. The interactive version above was adapted for the website by Sonia Bloom.

Artwork by Alexander Vaisman and Shura Vaisman.