Israel is a place so blessed. Last week a friend came to visit for only a few days from New York. Like most people, he had previously done Masada, gone to Eilat, spent time in a hotel, and of course The Wailing Wall. He saw the Sea of Galilee and even the Bahai Gardens in Haifa. These are standard things most tourists do when they come. But on this trip he could only allow himself just a few days to take care of some very important things with no time for leisure, so I decided to take him on a journey that would be unforgettable-To the vegetable market in Hod Hasharon. A huge complex, when entering you can’t see the end of the room, with HUNDREDS of types of fruits and vegetables, the eye is feasting before the mouth. From succulent pineapples to luscious nectarines, spicy hot red peppers and fresh cilantro, the different strains of onions, green, red, purple and the beautiful gold, curtains of fresh garlic line the walls and of course, right before Rosh Hashna, pomegranites and apples that I personally buy to also decorate my home, placing them in a bowl for beauty.
“Eretz Yisrael notenet peyroteha beayin yafa”- The Land of Israel is giving her fruit in bounty. This is the greatest sign of redemption and fulfillment of prophesy. The holidays here in Israel are flavorful, resonant with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that we are living in such a miraculous time, we only have to open our eyes and see. Israel is a productive, plentiful and precious Land, different than other lands. It is a Land that relies on our prayers. It relies on our acts of loving-kindness. It relies on placing her first and foremost in your heart and soul. It blooms from your kavana tova. Surrounding us as we enter a new year is nothing but turmoil, war and uncertainty. You don’t feel it though. You feel peace as you drive through the endless vineyards that were not a year ago just rocks and thorns. You feel exhilaration when you stand close to an olive tree and notice just how big the olives are getting this year. The dates and figs drip with honey, and the bakeries can’t be avoided- their scent invites you to come and taste lechem min haaretz!
It is easy to be thrown off track in this world of CNN, BBC and The New York Times. From every corner the yeitzer hara wants to come out and shouts “WE cannot manage in such a Land. Eretz ochelet yoshveha!” But we who live here and bare testimony to Hashem’s acts of kindness, to the sanctification of His name in his bounty shout- “This is a Land that feeds it’s people!” This year, I am not going on a diet. I resolute to try and stay in shape, I’ll walk more, I’ll do more- but I love the food here too much. Let me take this opportunity to bless our dear friends of Itamar with a Shana Tova U’metukah- looking forward to seeing you in Eretz Yisrael soon! Enjoy this recipe that I am cooking right now for the holiday!
Apple and honey meatballs
In a big pot stir fry 3 celery stalks, 1 onion 1 pepper 1 apple and 2 nectarines and 3 cloves of garlic chopped up
Let it simmer for 15 minutes
Add 2 large cans of tomatoe paste- add to that water, basil, 3 tablespoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon chicken soup mix and some bay leaves.
Let it cook for another 15 minutes
Pour in some wine!
Now- make your meatballs with lots of cilantro an egg and some bread crumbs
Place them into your pot and let cook for about an hour! Shana Tova Umetukah! (they can be frozen!)