Eleven-year-old Anya heard a knock on the door and ran to open it. As she suspected, it was her neighbor Mrs. Filenstein coming to make lunch and cheer up her bedridden mother.
Anya’s father had died a few weeks before Anya was born and her mother had been ill now for at least a month. She knew her mother was on the verge of passing away, too, but she wouldn’t let herself believe it. She wouldn’t let her beloved Ima pass away.
Anya was very religious and davened for her mother each day.
After Mrs. Filenstein left, Anya’s mother called for her. Anya ran to her mother’s bedside.
“Yes, Ima? Would you like a drink or something?” Anya asked.
“No, no Anya dear. But thank you for the concern. I have something very important to tell you.” Her mother’s voice sounded raspy and soft. “I know I’m going to pass away soon and there’s a Jewish orphanage that’s going to come and take care of you. I want you to pack a few things to take with you: your Shabbos candlestick, your siddur, and a pot.”
“A pot?! Why a pot?” Anya asked.
“Yes, a pot,” her mother answered. “Just in case.” Her mother’s voice dropped until Anya could barely hear her any more – and then her mother stopped breathing.
Anya started crying and bent to hug her mother. “I love you so much, Ima!” she cried. “I’ll never forget you.” Then Anya went outside her front door to tell Mrs. Filenstein what happened.
“Please, Anya, we have to go now,” Mrs. Filenstein urged.
“Wait, I just want to collect a few things my mother wanted me to bring.” She quickly ran to get her candlestick, siddur, and some clothes. She was about to leave the house when she suddenly stopped.
“What is it now?” an exasperated Mrs. Filenstein asked.
“There’s one more thing I forgot.” Anya went to the kitchen, took a pot from the cabinet and placed it in her bag. “Okay, now I’m ready to go.”
When Anya arrived at the orphanage, they showed her to her room. There were four beds and two dressers. There was a small window and no carpet on the wooden floor. It didn’t feel at all like home.
She quickly met the three other girls living in the room. Their names were Nechama, Esti, and Bracha. They soon became close friends.
Two months later, a non-observant family came to the orphanage to look for an 11-year-old girl. The orphanage was buzzing with excitement.
Anya wasn’t as excited, though. She had finally made some friends and she wanted to stay. But Hashem had other plans for her.
Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberg met several of the girls and Anya was their choice. They thought her independent spirit and respectful ways would make her a perfect fit as a sister to their 11-year-old daughter, Rachel.
After she got to the house, she met Rachel, who was wearing jeans and a tank top. She wasn’t what Anya expected. Rachel seemed rude and not very welcoming, but Anya decided to make the best of things.
It didn’t take her long to realize other differences. One of the main ones was that the Rosenbergs didn’t keep kosher even though they were Jewish.
But Anya had a plan. She decided she would get a babysitting job so she could buy her own food and make her own meals using the pot her mother had told her to bring along. The Rosenbergs would never know because they were always working late and Rachel was always in her room on the phone or watching television.
One day, Anya was making herself dinner when Rachel came downstairs.
“What are you doing?” Rachel asked accusingly.
“Making my dinner.”
“Why don’t you eat with us?” Rachel asked.
“Because I have to go babysitting,” answered Anya.
“Why do you buy your own food?”
Anya had no choice but to explain to her about keeping kosher.
Surprisingly, Rachel thought it was interesting! She wanted to spend more time with Anya and learn more about being Jewish.
After school Anya gave Rachel Hebrew lessons and taught her about Jewish customs, including keeping kosher.
“Why do you keep kosher?” Rachel asked.
“Because the Torah says,” answered Anya.
“But why? Isn’t there a reason?”
“No. Only that G-d says so,” said Anya.
“Wow, so you don’t eat so many foods and you have to make all of your pots and pans kosher just because G-d says so?”
“Yep,” said Anya.
“Wow! Being religious is so amazing,” Rachel replied.
It didn’t take long before the whole Rosenberg family became more observant. All because of a pot!