Cooking to Remember: Israeli Moms Recall Fallen IDF Sons With Food
Ahead of Israel’s Memorial Day on April 22, the day on which the Jewish State officially remembers its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, a unique cookbook compiled with recipes by bereaved mothers who have lost their children to war and terror has recently been published.
The cookbook, a project of OneFamily Fund, Israel’s leading national organization to provide support for bereaved families, includes 124 recipes of favorite foods of sons and daughters who were killed in terror attacks or in war in the past 13 years.
For Dalia Emanueloff, who lost her son, Dvir, in Operation Cast Lead six years ago, the cookbook, called ‘A Taste for Life,’ was an uplifting experience. Staff Sgt. Dvir Emanueloff, 22, was the first Israeli soldier to fall in battle during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, during a mortar attack in northern Gaza.
“I still keep the last text message that Dvir sent me right before he went into Gaza,” his mother told Tazpit News Agency. “We had an agreement that before he went into battle, to SMS me letting me know that he was ok.”
Showing the six-year-old text message, Dalia reads the last communication with her son: “To the dearest mother in the world, I love you. I will take care of myself and you take care of yourselves. With the help of God, we will return the respect to the people of Israel.”
Two years before Operation Cast Lead, Dalia’s husband had passed away after a prolonged illness.
“The cookbook gave me a platform to share the memory of my dear son with the public,” said Emanueloff, who lives with the rest of her family in Jerusalem. The recipe she chose for the cookbook was that of challah, the Jewish braided bread eaten on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. “Now in the merit of my son, people will know about this important Jewish tradition,” Emanueloff told Tazpit.
“Every Friday, I would bake challah but one Shabbat I didn’t have any energy and wanted to buy in the supermarket. Dvir refused – he wanted to eat my home-baked challah and so he helped me bake that Shabbat,” she recalled.
For others like Daliah Mizrahi, who lost two children, one in a terror attack and another in an IDF operation, making her son’s favorite chocolate cake after he was killed was a very difficult experience.
“I lost Shahar, my oldest son in 1995 and his youngest sister, Idit, always asked me to make his favorite chocolate cake even though I didn’t want to anymore,” Mizrahi told Tazpit. “At home, we always called this chocolate cake, ‘Shahar’s cake.'”
In 2001, Mizrahi’s youngest daughter, Idit was killed when she was shot by terrorists on the way to a cousin’s wedding in Jerusalem. “When Idit was murdered, making this cake became even more difficult,” said the bereaved mother.
“Since then, I don’t bake this cake so often, and when I do, the pain and loss it reminds me of are just overwhelming,” said Mizrahi. But Mizrahi decided that for the cookbook, she would include her layered chocolate cake recipe.
Mizrahi’s son, her only child left, is married with three children. “Today my grandkids are my comfort, they are my light,” says Mizrahi. “They keep me going.”
The ‘A Taste for Life’ cookbook, which features recipes from kube soup to matzo balls, fish and meat delicacies, as well as desserts, along photos of mothers and their children, is currently available in Hebrew only. The English version of the book is currently under development.
“The relationship between mother and son is a deep one that continues throughout life,” said Dina Kit, the bereaved mother behind the idea of the OneFamily cookbook at a special launch ceremony held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem last week.
“With Dina’s idea, we approached bereaved families for recipes,” explained Chantal Belzberg, the founder and volunteer CEO of OneFamily. “This is a book born out of sadness, but the process of preparing provoked memories with a smile. Many mothers prepared a favorite dish – for their first time, for this book,” noted Belzberg.