Talk It Over: What Makes a Family?

Brand-New Bubbe book cover

Jewish life revolves around family. The Torah even outlines the obligations that families have to support each other, both emotionally and physically. In Hebrew, mishpacha means family, and it’s not just a word, but a value to embrace as well. Families come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. They can be large, small, multi-generational, all living under the same roof, or spread out geographically. In the story A Brand New Bubbe, Jillian experiences changes to her family dynamic and wonders, what makes a family?

When Jillian’s mom remarries, Jillian not only gets a really nice stepdad but also a brand-new grandmother, a bubbe (Yiddish for “grandmother”). At first, Jillian’s not onboard with this new member of her family, but her mother tells her she has to give Bubbe a chance. The Hebrew phrase adam yachid refers to the uniqueness of every person. Judaism asks us to seek out and appreciate everyone’s individual gifts, because every person in the world has something special to share. When Jillian gets to know Bubbe, she comes to like her — and her chicken soup with matzo balls.


Have you ever met someone that you weren’t sure about at first but later began to like? What changed?

What do each of Jillian’s grandmothers have in common?

Who is part of your family?

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Chik Chak Shabbat book cover
Chicken Soup, Chicken Soup book cover


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