Preparing Pizza for Our Soldiers
While recently preparing a pizza pie to send to our soldiers during the Channuka war, Cast Lead, I overheard the following conversation around the stone oven:
How are you? Have we met before?
Very well thank you. No, I don't believe so. How did you get here?
I grew up in the American Midwest. I spent my youth bathed in beautiful sunshine. My brothers, sisters, cousins -- all my extended family -- constantly around me. We swayed and prayed together. It was a wonderful upbringing. And you?
I grew up on a moshav in the south of Israel. I too was surrounded by a loving family during my childhood. The south of Israel too is warm, even in the winter, so it was very cosy.
A third voice enters into the discourse. I also grew up here in Israel, on a kibbutz in the north. The whole kibbutz was involved in my upbringing. It's co-operative affair. We have a lot of cows up there, milked twice a day, the best milk used to produce delicious yellow cheese.
And a fourth pipes up. I grew up in Shilo, in Samaria, in a region in which my extended family have lived for thousands of years. Our roots are planted deep into this fertile soil. We have been nurtured in this holy land for thousands of years. We are a fixed element of the landscape.
This sentiment prompts the three Israelis to ask the American how long he has been in Israel. I left the U.S. about eighteen months ago. My first port of call was Haifa where I lived for a few months to ensure I was no longer a "new" immigrant. It was important for my sponsors that I became a veteran before I was allowed out into the world on my own. This only occurred after Pesach had passed us by. And now I have been relocated down here.
Do any of you know why the four of us are now here together, here in this kitchen? We are all so different, yet I feel an affinity to each of you. Are we perhaps here to fulfill a common destiny? Were we created for a greater good? In fact, is there a purpose in our existence? I feel that we are capable of doing great things together.
The moshavnik was a bit embarrassed by this turn in the conversation. She was now very red, and ready to hide under something, under anything.
This conversation was fascinating. I didn't think that these four had the ability to think so deeply, to ponder the philosophy of existence. I continued to listen in as we continued working on preparing our pie.
The American asked the moshavnik if she spent a lot of time outdoors as a child. My parents were very protective, so I spent most of the time in a warm but enclosed area. The sun shone through big windows and skylights, but was filtered so I would not burn or my skin dry up and become wrinkled. This is one of the problems with being in the first generation born after the holocaust -- your parents are far too protective.
However now that we are here all together, we represent a new strength, a power that as individuals we could never achieve. Our new existence transcends the sum of our parts, we are stronger than the total of our inheritance, our ability to achieve is greater than we all had previously as individuals. Is this not after all the dream of the Return to Zion?
Did you hear that loud voice outside? Who was it? What did it say? Oh, that was the Red Alert warning. You get them all the time down here. You learn to live with it.
Really, what does the alarm mean. Oh, you'll hear a big bang outside somewhere in a few seconds.
There was a big boom, maybe a mile down the road. That was close. Everyone safe?
How was your absorption into Israel? asks the kibbutznik. The American said it was OK, but he misses the outdoors. I was a nice brown colour before I came to Israel. Now I am bleached white.
As well as looking pale, you're becoming a bit puffy, one of the Israelis retorted. Are you feeling OK? The American told the Samarian that he was just green with envy at her very smooth complexion, but it was a bit cool in here at the moment. Would someone perhaps turn the heat up a little.
Though she had previously noticed the fairness of the American, the kibbutznik was somewhat embarrassed for the new immigrant, not meaning for the conversion to become so personal. She felt herself melting into the surface on which she had been placed. The Samarian now too sensed the discomfort he had caused and spread himself out as thinly as he possibly could.
But our four friends continued their patter. Everything from philosophy to dates, to the political situation, to the redemption of Israel. They did not notice they were now in the Israeli melting pot, becoming a new union, a different combination, a fresh bond, a new future.
As I slid the freshly baked pizza into its flat box, I thought to myself what a wonderful place Israel is to live. What a nice thought. Here I am in Sderot, during this war, bringing together a new immigrant with a kibbutznik, a moshavnik and a Samarian to bring joy to a group of soldiers in the middle of a skirmish, accompanied by a loving note of gratitude from a supporter of our brave soldiers in the IDF, somewhere far away, some place on the other side of the world.
A pizza created from tomato paste grown in a Negev greenhouse, just a stone throw away from Sderot, cheese produced from the milk of cows grazing the beautiful rolling hills of the Galil, and green olives picked from ancient Samarian trees, all baked atop a fluffy dough we lovingly kneaded from imported America flour.
You can also send a pizza pie -- just go to PizzaIDF.org and you too can be part of this unique bonding experience.
Please feel free to
and don't forget to stop by my site to look at my latest (and classic) photographs.