This entry is a departure from my usual subject.
This was my second week of staying home. My head is still fuzzy, though I’m not sure if it’s from my cold or the news. The funeral yesterday of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal left me shattered, along with the rest of my nation. Today, everything I do is in the memory of these three young boys kidnapped and murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
I made pizza with my precious son, Hillel. He is their age. He also attends a yeshiva high school away from home. Hillel sometimes catches rides with people he knows, but mostly he takes buses to and from school. We live in a “safe” place in the south of Israel. We carry the burden of knowing that rockets can be fired at us by terrorists in Gaza at any moment.
That’s not what this blog is about, though. (I’ll get to the pizza later.) Another reason I stayed home this week is that my dad has an art exhibit that opened at the AACI Glassman Family Center in Jerusalem. He went yesterday to hang the titles and explanations alongside his work. For lack of an alternative, and as a kindness, he took Mom with him.
Mom is inextricably attached to Daddy. In Alzheimer’s parlance, it’s called shadowing. She follows him everywhere. When he walks out of the room, she follows. When he works on the computer, she stands behind him watching over his shoulder. It doesn’t help that Mom often thinks Daddy is her father. On Saturday, the day Mom usually goes to synagogue, Mom told her care taker that she was going for a walk with her father instead. When Daddy suggested she go with Sahli to synagogue and that they’d take a walk later, she started shouting and said she was going by herself. “Look what you’ve done!” she hissed to Sahli. It was all sorted out in the end, but Mom’s separation from Daddy--even momentarily--becomes more difficult with each passing day.
Yet another reason I didn’t go to visit my parents yesterday is that I attended a meeting of my daughter’s Diller Youth Fellowship program. This is a national program funded in part by the Jewish Agency to bring Israeli and North American kids together. The Israelis are a mixed group of religious-secular, city dwellers-kibbutzniks, Sephardi-Ashkenazi. Many have at least two languages, though Liora is the only native English speaker among them. As part of their course, they discuss what it means to identify as Israeli and Jewish. They practice acceptance: kids who have never celebrated Shabbat, who think differently from them, become their close friends.
Liora flew to Montreal, our sister city, right before Passover. Next week, the Canadians, along with teens from the US, will arrive in Israel for their joint summer program. In the week that they’ll be in the Negev, the Israeli kids have made plans to show the Canadians what it’s like to live here. Liora has kindly asked me to speak to these kids on the topic of making aliyah to the Negev.
What can I tell them? How can I explain that in this country there are zero degrees of separation? That after a rocket attack, you’ll meet the mother of the doctor who operated on the young boy wounded by shrapnel and she’ll tell you how he is. That your friend knows two of the brave mothers who buried their children yesterday. That you wear your heart on your sleeve when your son and everyone else’s serve in the army.
Yes, I’ll also tell them that when you hear a bell ringing from the nearby parking lot, it’s the man selling fresh eggs, not the Good Humor truck. That it doesn’t ever rain in the summer. That when you light candles for Shabbat, you can feel the calm descend. That what you gain by being and feeling part of Israel far outweighs any material comforts of living abroad. As I wrote in a poem called “Last Rain,” “we are caught in that breathless moment, / bein hashmashot, between the days’ seams, / as we navigate this life of sorrow / and elation.”
My dad's art show is called, “Metamorphosis,” and the gala opening is on Monday, July 7. Click here for the AACI address. I’m looking forward to attending.
As I said before, Hillel and I made pizza together. You don’t need any special abilities to make this, just a good amount of time. It’s a great way to bond with your child. Put him in charge of the process! You’ll have plenty of time to talk. Now we begin to heal.
Home Made Pizza
There are three parts to this dish: the dough; the sauce; the cheese and toppings.
If you don’t have a round pizza pan, don’t despair. Any oven safe pan will do. You can make this dish even easier by buying grated cheese and store-bought pizza sauce. When I moved to Israel, if sauce existed, it was so expensive it wasn’t worth buying. I learned to make my own.
1½ tsp dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup warm water
1½ tsp salt
3 cups flour
1 32-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 16-oz can tomato paste
2 tsp each of basil, oregano, parsley, granulated garlic, salt and pepper
½ to ¾ cup grated Emek or equivalent cheese
½ cup grated mozzarella
1 red pepper sliced
½ onion sliced
½ cup sliced mushrooms
Try also olives, or corn
In a large bowl, soften together yeast, sugar and water. Add salt and flour, mixing and kneading for about 10 to 15 minutes until mixture becomes a smooth ball of dough. Cover and set dough aside to rise for 1 hour. In a separate bowl, mix sauce ingredients. (No need to cook.) Cut and chop vegetables for the toppings and set aside. When the dough has risen, punch down and roll out with a rolling pin on a flat floured surface. Keep rolling until the dough is larger than the pan that you’ll be using. With your fists (i.e., if you use your fingers, they can make holes in the dough), lift dough onto an oiled pizza pan. Fold edges inward to form a thick crust. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, spread sauce on dough. Top with cheese and vegetables. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes until cheese begins to brown.