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Jr. Reporters: The Succos Scoop

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Site: Klaf  Kltezkin

Chaya Rosen

Jr. Reporters:

Zalman is 12 years old and in seventh grade. He is the second of five children. He loves building miniatures out of wood and electronics, and enjoys learning history at school.

Shlomo Yehuda is eight years old and in third grade. He is the oldest of three. He loves swimming, hot dogs, and learning Navi.

Yossi is 11 years old and in sixth grade. He is the sixth of seven children. He enjoys riding his bike and going on trips with his family, and he loves hot Yemenite dips.

Yonason is 12 years old and is in eighth grade. He loves to learn and play ball. He’s busy preparing for his bar mitzvah.

Pinchos is 11 and is in 6th grade. He likes to read and ride his bike.

***

“What are those wooden racks?” Yonason asked the moment we entered the klaf factory.

“Youch, what’s that smell?” Yossi wrinkled his nose. “That’s what I want to know!”

Rabbi Kletzkin, who owns the factory, laughed. “Well, you know what klaf is made from.”

“Dead cows!” Yossi yelled.

“Yes,” said Rabbi Kletzkin, and he showed us a calf’s skin: hairy, black and white, and coated in salt.

“Hey,” Shlomo Yehuda said, “You can see the calf’s head and tail and all!”

We all gaped at the spread-out calf skin. Rabbi Kletzkin folded the skin over a little so that it looked a bit like the actual calf.

“Why’s it full of salt?” Zalman asked suspiciously. “We don’t eat this, do we? Why does it need to be kashered?”

“Good question. You see, the skins arrive from overseas, and as you can imagine, cow skins can rot and smell pretty bad. The salt acts as a preservative to keep the skin nice and fresh for up to a year.”

“Yeah. Fresh, sure,” Yossi groaned. He pinched his nose.

“Why not freeze them?” Zalman asked. “That’s what my mother does to keep meat fresh.”

“Sometimes we do that, too,” Rabbi Kletzkin answered, pointing out a big freezer room.

“Can we go in there to cool down?” Shlomo Yehuda asked, but Rabbi Kletzkin herded us to see the next stage: the ibud, or processing, of those skins into klaf.

“Wow, what’s in those?” Yonason exclaimed as Rabbi Kletzkin showed us humongous, barrel-like drums. They were three times taller than even the grown-ups, and very big and wide.

“This is where we put the skins,” Rabbi Kletzkin said. “The process begins here. First we wash the salt off, and then insert them into these drums you see here. Can you guess what we put inside with the skins?”

“Chemicals,” Zalman suggested.

“It’s mostly water and the most active ingredient is sid, lime,” Rabbi Kletzkin said, “with some added chemicals. This is the most important stage of klaf preparation, and it will decide how mehudar and beautiful the klaf will be. There is no exact recipe — each time it comes out a little different based on many factors, such as the skins themselves and the heat. Every difference necessitates a change in the amount and formulation of the chemicals we use.”

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 781)

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