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That Takes the Biscuit


One of the people central to my absorption in Israel—primarily professionally but also culturally and socially - was Dov Ancona. Dov was an optimist, a creative thinker and educator and a fine mentor. He gave me the opportunity to develop my career in community work and education. He believed I could do it, he helped me when I needed him to and he stood behind me as he pushed me to go out and take the risks which awaited me. I am forever grateful to him.

BUT that was just one gift I received from Dov—the other was revealed to me when I would stop at his house in Moshav Shoeva. Our work conversation was always accompanied by coffee—expresso that he would wolf down in true Italian manner—and cookies, actually broken cookies! Usually they were crescent-shaped white or chocolate, with the ends dipped in dark chocolate. "These are great, do you make them?" I asked knowing that he was a fine cook and lover of good food. Today, I guess we would call him a "foodie".

"No, I buy them at a bakery in Givat Shaul in Jerusalem. A religious place. The broken ones are half price and I get them by the kilo." From then on I, too, became a regular patron, stopping in on my frequent trips up to Jerusalem. Abadi cookies, rougelach, chocolate-dipped crescent cookies and many others became a well-loved part of our family's diet. But—diet being the operative word— when I got home with fresh cookies they would quickly be deposited in our stand-up freezer, bought in 1979, our first year as olim. After all, too many cookies …

The years went by and the frozen cookie tradition held strong. Ilana and Michal, and even their friends, knew exactly where to go when the sweet tooth cried out! And we all became convinced that frozen cookies are the best. Our grandchildren have been brought into the frozen cookie world-as have our sons-in -law (although I am not certain they are as sure of the value as we are). To this day, a visit to our house almost always starts out with a visit to the freezer.

But the times have changed. The Amcor freezer, although still working, was retired from active duty a few months ago. We deliberated at length about replacing it. The winning argument was the frozen cookie one: 'How could Beit Shochat not have frozen cookies always available?' The new freezer is just fine—and well-equipped to hold lots of cookies - but it's different from its predecessor.

And the times are changing in another way. Yesterday, on my way to a meeting in Jerusalem, I drove into Givat Shaul, as I have done for years, to stock up on cookies. As I consciously noted the changes - how the Haredi presence had grown in forty years, how many apartments had been built—I took pleasure in knowing that at least one thing was the same: the bakery with the man who had been serving me for all those years, offering basically the same variety of baked goods. And then the unexpected happened— I approached the old one-story building and saw that the bakery doors were locked shut and that the building looked even older than it had for years. No sign explaining why it was closed or when it would reopen. A young Haredi fellow was walking by. I put down my car window, asking him if he knew why the bakery was closed. "Finito," he replied. Taken aback, I asked, "What? When? have they moved elsewhere?" "A few weeks ago and they have not opened elsewhere." The bakery building was to be knocked down, to be replaced by a new tall building. I sat silently in my car for a few minutes.

As I drove away, I knew I would have to tell Ilana, Michal and Jack that "the times they are a-changing" and that I would be looking for a new source of delicious cookies suitable for freezing. 



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Tuesday, 28 March 2023

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