A Bisl Torah — Happy Birthday to Israel

On Tuesday night, Sinai Temple made shakshuka with Danny Corsun and Zoey Corsun of Culinary Judaics Academy. The evening was a cooking celebration in honor of Israel’s birthday. Shakshuka is a well-known Middle Eastern dish, often served in Israeli homes and restaurants for breakfast or lunch. Peppers, tomatoes, harissa, za’atar, eggs and an assortment of other spices, the dish does not disappoint. But it’s spicy and strong. A mishmash of flavors all trying to get a word in. Ingredients you wouldn’t necessarily put together but somehow, stand out on their own and combine to make the most beautiful dish.

Seems like the perfect metaphor for Eretz Yisrael. A bold country, filled with a glorious tapestry of opinions, religions, cultures, voices, and traditions. A land filled with grit, ingenuity, memory, and honor. Each story different from the next. Each story interwoven with another, connecting the soul of every Israeli, infusing hope and a yearning to come home.

On Tuesday, a taste of Israel entered our kitchen. Then and now, I am reminded of Yehuda Amichai’s stirring words:

Once I sat by a gate at David’s Tower,
I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists
was standing around their guide and I became their target marker. “You see
that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there’s an arch
from the Roman period. Just right of his head.”
“But he’s moving, he’s moving!”
I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them,
“You see that arch from the Roman period? It’s not important: but next to it,
left and down a bit, there sits a man who’s bought fruit and vegetables for his family.”

Israel is a land filled with a range of ingredients: a man buying fruits and vegetables for his family, an IDF soldier riding the bus to go home for Shabbat, olim learning Hebrew, a Masorti rabbi preparing for Pesach, people wrapping tefillin on Ben Yehuda Street. The cities of Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Safed, Tiberias and Eilat. Shakshuka, dates, falafel, rugelach, and cholent.

May Israel’s beauty, varied and vast, continue to fill our souls. From thousands of miles away, her spirit lifts ours.

Happy Birthday, Israel and Shabbat Shalom


Rabbi Nicole Guzik is a rabbi at Sinai Temple. She can be reached at her Facebook page at Rabbi Nicole Guzik. For more writings, visit Rabbi Guzik’s blog section from Sinai Temple’s website.

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