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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green

A Happy Unbirthday

It is hard to write and post a blog on this heavy Memorial Day in Israel. We remember the 23,741 souls who have fallen in wars and in terrorist attacks since the founding of the state in 1948, including my husband’s father's cousin, Ami-Yehiel Grossbard, who fell in 1957.

And, tonight, we will transition from sorrow to joy as we observe Israel’s 71st birthday in a spirited Independence Day celebration.

Yesterday, before the start of Memorial Day, I attended Mom’s "unbirthday" party in her memory care facility. Yes, her birthday was two months ago, but due to circumstances, the home arranged to celebrate it only now. And, really, what difference does it make to Mom when—or even how—we acknowledge her birthday? She has no concept of time and won’t remember minutes later anyway!

Mom was thrilled by all the attention. Several of the other residents came to where she was sitting at the head table to give her blessings, including one woman, Sarah, whom she’s interacted with quite a bit. In her excitement, Mom got up out of her chair, leaned over the table, and kissed Sarah. It was very touching. We even managed to sing “Happy Birthday” in English to Mom—definitely not a given with the preponderance of Russian in her ward.

Mom and I quietly sang to each other the song from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland: “A very happy unbirthday to you.” We ate ice cream and cake and ruined our appetites for lunch. All in all, a satisfying experience.

As we head into Mother’s Day in the US (Sunday, May 12), I would like to mention that a highlight of this week (besides the unbirthday party) has been the publication of my book, The Lost Kitchen: Reflections and Recipes from an Alzheimer’s Caregiver! It is my lovesong to Mom in that not only does it describe the hardships of dealing with her Alzheimer’s, but it recreates the vivacious, sweet-natured woman she used to be through poetry and through her recipes. You can find out more about the book here.

I so appreciate the support I have felt from all the readers of my blog. You remind me that I am not alone.

Israel’s 71st birthday starts tonight! What better way to honor the occasion than by preparing some traditional Israeli food. Here is a tasty recipe for beef kebabs.


I can’t get enough of these, that burst of flavor as your teeth scrape the cinnamon stick when you bite into these tender kebabs. The fresh herbs and pine nuts give this humble “hamburger” big taste.

½ kilo / 1 lb ground beef

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

¼ cup combination of basil and mint leaves, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp cumin

2 tsp paprika

3 Tbsp pine nuts

1/3 cup bread crumbs

1 egg

Salt and pepper to taste

10-12 cinnamon sticks


Combine all ingredients and mix until well blended. With a cinnamon stick in one hand, grab about a hand-full of meat mixture with the other and shape around the cinnamon stick. Set aside on a flat surface. Repeat until all the meat is used. Note: If meat does not stay in shape, add an additional egg to mixture. Grill for about 20 minutes or place on tray and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350° F / 180° C.

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