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  • Writer's pictureMiriam Green


Updated: May 14, 2020

Half a day has slipped by and I’m fighting the urge to stay in bed, at least for a little longer. Today is Israel’s Independence Day. For me, prayers at synagogue on this night are the embodiment of my religious Zionism. It is the intersection of two beliefs that meld into one loud hammering heartbeat as we sing praises to God for the establishment of Israel. And even more significant is that transition from Memorial Day with its somber, tear-filled stories and memories to the exuberance of independence celebrations. They are inextricably linked. Suffice it to say that I did not attend synagogue last night, as I have not attended in the last two months. I miss deeply sharing these spiritual moments with my beloved community.

This is also the first year of commemorating Memorial Day with a son in a combat unit knowing that the situation in the Middle East could turn deadly at any moment, and knowing I am helpless to read the future. It leaves me quaking.

Of course, we are nothing without our memories—our remembrance of past experiences, lost individuals, the joy of celebration. This is one of the terrible aspects of Alzheimer’s, losing one’s memories, one’s very essence. The last video call we had with Mom was less than stellar. She acknowledged us with anger then completely disappeared before our eyes, traveling somewhere internally in a stony, sulky stare. We could not rouse her, even with song. It is impossible to know why—or where—she went.

We are all on lock down here in Israel, all in our own internal states. I am trying hard to move beyond myself to see the beauty of our celebration. There are kids outside playing, and I can smell more than one of my neighbors’ barbecues already.

And beyond my current melancholy mood, I know there are a myriad of things to be thankful for. My soldier son was home on leave last weekend and it was wonderful; my daughter is a joy (she even made us all dinner last night); my husband is his stalwart self, giving us all support; and I am learning to find patience when talking with my dad. These are good things. Plus, my 3½–year-old grandson now knows how to manipulate his father’s cell phone and loves chatting with his Nana, melting my heart.

I do want more assurances in this uncertain time, but I recognize that this is unreasonable. Instead, even as I turn inward, I seek ways to connect with others so that we might all share these difficult times. I have a fervent wish that this situation will end soon and that we will all celebrate together the return of social interactions that we once took for granted.

My daughter Liora made us meatballs last night. They were truly terrific. I tried to pin down the recipe but she seems to cook by feel rather than hard and fast measurements. It reminded me of one of the more colorful words in Yiddish that I learned from my grandmother: shytaryn. Which seemed to mean mix it all up together.

Liora’s Meatballs

Liora and I sat together and this is the basic recipe for her meatballs that we came up with. Try them! Hopefully, you’ll enjoy them as much as we did.


½ kilo ground beef

1 potato, grated

1 squash, grated

1 onion, chopped

½ cup parsley, chopped

1 egg

½ cup to ¾ cup bread crumbs

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp paprika

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp chicken soup powder (optional)

2 Tbsp soda water

Salt and pepper to taste


1 onion, chopped

3-4 cloves, chopped

1-2 whole hot peppers, sliced open

7-8 tomatoes, cubed

1½ cups boiling water

1 Tbsp paprika

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cumin

1 Tbsp chicken soup powder (optional)

½ cup cilantro, chopped


Fry onions for both sauce and meatballs, then remove half to a large mixing bowl. Mix meat, grated potato and squash, parsley, egg and spices, soda water then bread crumbs, adding or subtracting ingredients—especially the bread crumbs—until the mixture is firm and not sticky or loose. Place in fridge. In a deep frying pan or large saucepan, add garlic to onions, whole peppers and tomatoes. Cook down and mush tomatoes with a spoon. Add spices, stir, then water and cilantro. After the sauce reaches a boil, simmer on lowest flame for about 15 minutes. Remove meat from fridge and using your hands, make tiny meatballs (about half the size of an egg) and place in pan with sauce. Shake pan to ensure meatballs aren’t sticking to bottom of pan. Add extra unchopped cilantro if desired. Cover and cook on low flame for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Serve on a bed of rice.

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