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May 24, 1996 - Image 48

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-05-24

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Observations on parenting,
discipline and love.

I know no better test of a man than
his possession of the affection of those
most intimate with him."

Confederate leader Judah P. Ben-
:n, in a letter to his daughter, Minette

o Teat' one's parents means not to sit
in their place, not to speak in their stead,
and not to contradict them."
Rashi, in Commentaries in the
Pentateuch, Leviticus

you must beat a child, use a string."
Talmud: Baba Bata, 21a

sages recommended that a father
should spend less than his means on
food, up to his means on dress, and be-
yond his means for his wife and chil-
Maimonides, in the Mishneh Torah


Elisa Seltzer makes her own teas, but has made peace with the dryer.

fasting. But Mrs. Miller advises parents
not to give up when striving to improve
their children's health and emotional
well-being through diet. Just put it on the
table and toss the potato chips out the
"They'll eat it," she says. "They'll have
to. Eventually they'll get hungry."


Elisa Seltzer grew up in the

big city. Today, she lives in a Michigan
town few natives have even heard of.
"It's L-e-v-e-r-i-n-g," she says, careful-
ly spelling the name. Just about every-
body gets it wrong. As a point of reference
she volunteers, "It's in Emmet County,
overlooking Sturgeon Bay. Petoskey is
about 25 miles away."
In an old-fashioned farmhouse in that
town, on a lush farm field aside numer-
ous other abundant farm fields, Mrs.
Seltzer lives with her husband, Steve
ton, and their two children, Sam,
Kylah Rose, 11/2.
ltzer was born and raised in
Chi go. She came to Michigan via the
university in Ann Arbor, where she at-
tended the school of natural resources
and met her future husband.
As a child, admittedly, she ate every-
thing (chocolate continues to remain a fa-
vorite). But her commitment to
compassionate parenting, and a love of
the outdoors, started early.
Young Elisa Seltzer never received a
parental spanking. She spent summers

at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, "where I
fell in love with the woods." Her parents
made her care about a responsibility for
the environment.
After college and marriage, Ms. Seltzer
and her husband began looking for land
in upstate Michigan. There they found
their dream home, an early 1900s farm-
house with a pressed-tin ceiling, hard-
wood floors and a wood stove in the dining
room. With a little renovation (Mr. John-
ston is a builder) the couple, both certi-
fied organic farmers, moved into the
house. They still work the crops on their
Ms. Seltzer's description of her home
is both charming and alluring, likely even
to raise a sigh in the heart of the most
hard-boiled New Yorker.
"We live in such a remote area that we
hear, and sometimes see, coyotes and ea-
gles flying over our land, and wild deer
and wild turkey are as common as pi-
geons in the city," she says.
"It's a 10-minute trek through orchards
and fields to an artesian spring at the
edge of the woods to catch frogs and get
a drink of pure, cold water bubbling from
the earth. Our son Sam is so at ease out -\
doors that he has caught chickadees with ›.
one hand. Kylah prefers heading out in
wild snowstorms or late at night to
"On our farm we have an apple orchard
and 200 acres where we grow garlic, rasp-
berries and lettuce," she says. "We also
have an extensive home garden," where

Ms. Seltzer cultivates herbs she uses to
make her own teas.
To make teas, she dries leaves by hang-
ing them in the attic or placing them on
non-metallic screens in the barn.
Ms. Seltzer and her family eat many
of the foods they grow; meals often con-
sist of vegetables with rice and pasta,
which they buy in bulk. They get their
eggs from chickens on their farm.
Through "wonderful re jation with our
neighbors," there's much barterin
Recently, they exchanged some h
grown produce for a nearby farm's buck-
et of maple syrup. Warmed on their
wooden stove, it made for a great addi-
tion to oatmeal.
In the winter, Ms. Seltzer shops for or-
ganically grown foods (which have no pes-
ticides or chemicals) — and there's always
frozen items, like the raspberries that
they eat all year long.
Vegetables are a treat. "Sam can go out
and pull a carrot from the ground, rub it
on his trousers and eat it. Of course, he
loves macaroni and cheese, too," she says.
Ms. Seltzer and Mr. Johnston keep
their schedule flexible by working a va-
riety of jobs. Ms. Seltzer is a public-works
director in Emmet County; Mr. Johnston
makes furniture. Through their mail-or-
der business, Sturgeon Bay Organics,
they sell echinacea, a purple cornflower
said to stimulate the immune system.
Also, both of them farm and sell vegeta-
bles to local restaurants.
Their work hours are partly out of need

Vha is great and good in the in-
' tever
tutions and usages of mankind is an
application of sentiments that have
drawn their first nourishment from the
soil of the family. The family is the school
of duties ... founded on love."

U.S. philosopher and Reform rabbi
Felix Adler (1851-1933), in Creed and


LVVh en a father complains that his son

taken to evil ways, what should he
do? Love him more than ever."

The Baal Shem Too


od could not be everywhere, so he
created mothers."

Austrian novelist Leopold Compert


my children, I speak clearly with

the Eternal"

Theodor Herzl, in Das Palais 13our-

o rears his son to be righteous is
e an immortal."
.Rashi, in Commentary to Genesis

saw a Jewish lady only yesterday
th a child at her knee, and from
whose face towards the child there
shone a sweetness so angelical that it
seemed to form a sort of glory round
both. I protest I could have knelt before
her, too, and adored in her the divine
beneficence in endowing us with the
maternal storage which began with our
race and sanctifies the history of
British author William Thackery
(1811-1863), in Pendennis

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