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6 Easy Ways to Capture the Spirit of Yom Haatzmaut At Home

0 Comments 24 April 2012

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This year, Yom Haatzmaut falls on April 26, 2012. Just to brush everyone up on Israeli history, Yom Haatzmaut is the day that Jews worldwide celebrate the creation of the state of Israel. It is preceded by Yom Hazikaron in which we memorialize the fallen soldiers of Israel.

As a side note, growing up as a student in the Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn, I am forever grateful for the love of Israel that was instilled in all of us. On Yom Haatzmaut we would craft Israeli flags, sing and dance, and yearn for the day when we could go kiss the kotel in Jerusalem. The school was founded by Joel Braverman, who was born in 1896 in the Ukraine. He went on to found one of the top modern orthodox yeshivot in America which combined a top notch Torah education and the love of Israel, with secular learning on par with the American public schools. 

Several years ago, while interviewing a Syrian Jewish gentleman for The Sephardic Heritage Museum, I was surprised to learn that  he was was of the first Syrian Jewish students to attend the Yeshivah of Flatbush in the 40′s. He recounted the story of how, during the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, as a first grader, he was taunted by the Ashkenazi kids that he was indeed an Arab, and an enemy of  the new state of Israel. When his father heard about the students accusations, he promptly contacted Mr. Braverman who in turn educated all of the children that Syrian Jews were their brethren, and they resided in Syria for 3,000 years. He explained to them that only in the late 1800′s did they start to emigrate to countries such as the United States.

Little did Joel Braverman and other community members know, that at the very same time in 1948 that Israel was happily declared a state, the Jews back in Syria were suffering their very own “Kristalnacht” in which angry Arab mobs rampaged through the streets of Aleppo, burning down marked Jewish homes, synagogues (including the 3,000 year old ancient Great Synagogue of Aleppo), and destroying hundreds of irreplaceable Torah scrolls and manuscripts. Jewish men, women and children fled upon the rooftops, or hid with sympathetic Arab neighbors. Hundreds of Syrian young boys escaped Syria at that time to fight as soldiers in the War of Indepence and they proudly tell their stories today. (Get ready for Episode 7 produced by Joe Sitt and The Sephardic Heritage Museum!)

Please remember the struggles and tribulations of Eretz Yisrael this week. Here are some ways to incorporate Yom Haatzmaut into your week!

Read more about Yom Haatzmaut HERE.

1-Thank you Rachel Margolies for a fun way to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut with the kids! Check out  Delightfully Dowling for instant instructions on how to make these delicious blue and white color swirled cupcakes. What does your family do to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut? Please comment below!

image via pjcc

2- Learn about  The Foods of Israel Today by Joan Nathan. Here are some great  Amazon reviews that convinced me to click and buy…

“When was the last time you took a cookbook to bed with you? This is a book that you’ll read from cover to cover, and not necessarily in the kitchen. Well researched and expertly written, “The Foods of Israel Today” is actually a history of food traditions in Israel with a bonus of assorted recipes.”
“With 300 recipes, two pages of suggested Israeli restaurants, two web sources for ingredients, and nine suggested menus, Nathan shows the diverse cuisines of Israel’s sabras and immigrants. THIS IS ISRAELI CUISINE that is being eaten in Israel. Includes turkey schnitzel, quick kibbutz apple cake, eggplant salad, and halvah chocolate cake..”
“In addition to salad, tahina, and hummus recipes, Nathan lists 19 of the best places for hummus from Jerusalem to Akko to Haifa. Plus 12 happening places for falafel. There are 23 salads, including Hamutzim (pickled vegetables). Some of my favorite recipes are Mish Mish Apricot Jam (with cinnamon stick); Egyptian Coconut Jam….”

3- Support Israeli agriculture and shop at Negev Nectars- Gourmet kosher delicacies made by Israeli farmers. I’ve served these gourmet preserves and spreads to my guests and they are indeed delicious !


Shop online today at NegevNectars.com. Use promo code Israel64 at checkout. Sale includes all a la carte items (olive oil, olives, dates and more) as well as all packages.

4- Make Israeli Couscous- adapted from The New York Times:

  • 1 cup Israeli couscous, preferably whole-wheat
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 1 ounce feta, diced
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red pepper, cut in thin 2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt (or use half olive oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or mild chili powder (more to taste)

1. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan and add the couscous. Stir until the couscous begins to color and smell toasty, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain if any liquid remains in the pan.

2. Transfer the couscous to a bowl and add the cilantro, chives, feta, pine nuts, chickpeas and red pepper.

3. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the lemon juice, salt, cumin, remaining olive oil, yogurt and Aleppo pepper or chili powder. Toss with the couscous mixture. This is perfect Shavuot recipe or grab a cup of this delicious Israeli couscous for lunch on the go.

5- Make these Israel themed books a bedtime favorite. A memorable gift for a niece or nephew…

6- Watch Barbara Streisand sing Hatikvah to Golda Meir - I LOVE THIS VIDEO!

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