The Jewish Mother in Training Returns!


Just because Chronicles of a JMIT is defunct doesn’t mean I can’t still use baking as an emotional outlet and way to think through what I’m experiencing. Therefore, in this time of strife in Israel, I am compelled to share with you a story about… PEANUT BUTTER CHEESECAKE BROWNIES! I’ll keep it short– I have a lot of work to do on this pan of hot, gooey brownies sitting in front of me.

For those who haven’t been following the news on what’s going on in Israel (is there anyone reading my Israel blog who hasn’t been following the news?), the past week has been marked, and marred, by conflict. There were hundreds of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip at Israel, hundreds of Israeli air raids in the Gaza Strip, and today, a bus bombing in Tel Aviv that wounded several and incited panic in many. International diplomats have been flown in to try to help make peace, my phone has turned in to a mini-strobe light because of so many news notifications, and my Facebook Messenger app actually crashed from overuse. I appreciate the support and concern more than I can express. On the other hand, I can’t say I was 100% frustrated when my Facebook Messenger app crashed, because it meant I could stop looking at my phone every 60 seconds and feel compelled to respond, and actually write the grant proposal my supervisor requested.

As I mentioned in the last post, the most challenging aspect of the conflict for me has been understanding how to act and respond. Dozens of the messages I received have started with “COME HOME!”, which I totally understand. But, as one of my roommates said, there is a time to leave, and now is not that time. I may not know what to say when an Israeli friend asks me “How are you handling everything?”, but I know that I am not ready to jump ship. I want to be here, I want to keep working, and I want to keep living my life. So, I will. With necessary adjustments, of course.

Which is basically the same story as baking in Israel. Nothing here seems to come out quite right. Some combination of converting ounces to grams and Fahrenheit to Celsius and inches to centimeters, combined with different humidity levels, barometric pressure and generally different ingredients (“Cemacao”?), means that everything comes out slightly differently than it would in the US. It also means I need to be more accepting of myself when things don’t come out as gooey as I would like, or taste a little too sweet. But that won’t stop me from trying. It just means I need to channel my inner yogi and bake with a little more presence, a little more intentionality. I can’t whip up a batch of brownies, stick them in the oven and head off to shower, because I need to adjust the amount of butter, closely monitor the oven temperature, and rotate the pan a few times to make sure they cook evenly.

I’m living a completely new life in a new place with new people and a not-so-new oven, so naturally everything will be a little different. What I think is important is not whether I can exactly replicate my Bubbe’s world-famous brownies using Cemacao (seriously, what is this stuff?) instead of unsweetened baking chocolate, but just that I am eating brownies with my friends and laughing about everything under the sun. This isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I decided to move to Israel, but this is the situation I have been handed, and I can continue to live my life and be happy in it as is. As I told my dad the other day, the most fun thing I am doing in Israel is just living here. I haven’t done much in the way of touristy eating or sightseeing, because I’ve been busy living: going to work, going to the gym, cooking dinner with my roommates and attempting to read Hebrew news and books. And that, my friends, is just fine with me. Brownies are delicious no matter what type of chocolate you use, and living in Israel is still fun despite the cloud of violence hanging over us.

And with that, time to go eat more brownies. Life is good 🙂 Deena

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