I am sitting in the Newark airport, waiting to board my flight to Tel Aviv, after a whirlwind month of January, a wonderful beginning to 2016.
For the past four years, my brother and I have arranged to go down to Florida with my mother for a few weeks, in celebration of her birthday and to enjoy the weather (in contrast to the cold winter in Chicago, where it would be difficult for her to go outside). This year, I was apprehensive, and thought we would no longer be able to enjoy this gift, mostly a gift of time, with my mother, because she spent the majority of the month of September in the hospital. The doctors were not sure she would ever come home. But, thankfully, she is doing much better, I believe because of her unbeatable spirit (in addition to the amazing care of the team at the hospital). This spirit of hers is definitely contagious – a determination to live, a drive to move on, in spite of her physical limitations today. She was so excited to be able to cook for her grandson, Sammy and his family! After all, cooking is living for my mother! Of course, when Sammy, along with his wife Debbie and son, Adir, came to spend Shabbat with my mother, she cooked all his favorites, Chicken Paprikas, Stuffed Cabbage, and even Falcse Fish. (all recipes you can find in my book, Food Family and Tradition: Hungarian Kosher Family Recipes and Remembrances)
My mom is still in Florida, and now, my cousin Ibi has joined her. I am quite sure they will be cooking and enjoying life, as they bask outside in the beautiful weather.
I had to leave Florida, and am now on my way to Israel, to welcome a new baby grandchild. While I am there, I will have the opportunity to share the food and the tradition of my book, with members of the community. I will be part of a wonderful event for Matan, a graduate program for advanced women’s Torah study. I am hoping to share this mantra which I have learned from my mother: cooking is living. And I will retell stories of Hungarian/Czech Jewry prior to the Shoah, all through food and tastings.
Matan is an exciting place, women studying on such a high level; it is full of the exhilaration that emanates from learning together, from the intellectual pursuit of all the history, scholarship and law of the Jewish people. Never before in our history has there been an era when women were so advanced in this study, and Matan has always been at the forefront.
We will explore the history and tradition of the Jews of Eastern Europe, through memories sparked by particular foods. And since we are just welcoming the month of Adar, a festive month when we celebrate Purim, we will enjoy tastings of pastries that are particular to the holiday of Purim.
Speaking of festivities and good times, let me wish you all a wonderful 2016!