You are in Israel and I am in class. I’m a terrible student … I just can’t wait to be with the family. All I have to do is get through the next few classes and readings before I see you in two days!
I’m looking forward to Amit’s wedding, but the nerd in me is just as excited to simply be surrounded by my family. The abundance of us together at the same time (for the first time!) in Israel is part of an important story. I’m grateful to live it. And if the legacy of family tradition is carried in the way we party, the wedding will be out of control.
I’m also excited for you to be in Israel again. I know you’ll love the food and I’m curious to hear your perceptions of the country’s daily beat. When I walk the streets of Jerusalem there are times I feel right at home and others when reality flips my comfort zone upside down. Will you experience what other Jewish visitors from the US talk about — a feeling of returning home? Or, more similar to my experience, will being here make you question your sense of belonging to any place? Living in Jerusalem makes me wonder if sense of belonging to a place is something that we’re taught to feel entitled to… and what kind of devotion, adoration, havoc that feeling might trigger. If you run out of things to think about during your time here, sense of belonging is a good one. But I’m certain that won’t happen. Your days will be too crowded with loud family, tasty salads and stunning vistas.
In the least, Abe’s embarrassing family slogan creation – One World, One Family. Schuster, We Know No Borders – vindicates a share of my own search for belonging, particularly among our small American cohort. That’s why our family story is important to me.
See you SOON b’eretz!
The best thing about eating in Israel is the salads. Breakfast salads, lunch salads, dinner salads… small, diverse and plenty! In the words of dear friend Dr. Ayla Pelleg, salads are exciting because every bite is a new adventure!
You’ll see what I’m talking about in a few days if you haven’t already.
In Israel, tuna salads are staple, weirdly for breakfast and especially among students like me for its affordable (in time and shekels) protein. When I was a kid, my favorite lunch was a tall stack of tuna- saltine cracker-tuna- saltine cracker. What I probably enjoyed most about this lunch was the animal-like crumble of the stack after such careful construction.
I’m (mostly) over my childish impulse to destroy, but am still tweaking my all-time favorite tuna salad. Below is my Israel inspired concoction colored with eastern spices and bright veggies.
Spicy Tuna Salad with Lentils and Arugula
Serves 4 – 7 people
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 green chili, stem and seeds removed
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups French lentils, prepared (boil with salt)
- 3 5-ounce cans of albacore tuna
- 4 tablespoons spice mix or to taste
- 2 cups carrots, finely grated
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 4 handfuls of arugula, chopped
- 3 eggs, boiled and sliced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Handful of parsley, roughly chopped, for garnish
- Handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted, for garnish
To prepare spice mix, add all ingredients into a food processor and puree into thick paste. In a large bowl, mix lentils, tuna, spice mix, onions and carrots. If desired, add a drop of olive oil to loosen the mixture. Right before serving, toss tuna mixture with arugula and sliced eggs. Add salt and black pepper as needed. Garnish with pumpkin seeds and parsley and serve chilled with good bread or crackers. Refrigerate any unused portion of the spice mixture for other salad dishes.
** If you don’t eat fish, add another handful of lentils (or an additional egg or slices of avocado) … the salad works without tuna. The lentils, carrots and arugula carry plenty of substance. Experiment and tell me what you learn.