DIY Frugal Shoebox Game: “Gogo’im”

There are 144 apricot pits in a peanut butter jar on my kitchen counter. I collected stamps, coins, and erasers. My kids collect apricot pits.


The spinner craze has hit Israel, and kids around the country are spinning away with these finger-fidget-toys. Other years, there were rainbow loom kits or special cards to collect. The fads come and go, but for as long as there have been apricots in Israel, Israeli kids have been collecting and playing with gogo’im (גוגואים), known in Jerusalem as a’ju’im (אג’ואים). Lots of people would look at me like I’m crazy if I told them my kids play with apricot pits, but–like hopscotch and marbles–gogo’im is a classic schoolyard game. (The Israeli equivalent of jacks is חמש אבנים, “five stones,” which we bought on our trip to Shlomit.) In an age of consumerism, when we feel compelled to buy the latest toy, the season’s newest model car, the most fashionable clothes, and the newest iphone, it’s refreshing to have an old classic to fall back on. Simple living. Like a school uniform, every kid’s apricot pits look pretty much the same. No one will know if your parents bought apricots for 25 shekels a kilo at the corner store or the five-shekel apricots on a blowout sale that were half-rotten and your mom used to make fruit soup. It really doesn’t matter because a pit is a pit. It’s a great equalizer.


Also, if my children are begging me to buy them toys that come inside delicious, fresh fruit that they will eat in order to get the pits, that is a thousand times better than asking me to buy them chocolate eggs with toys inside. When they ask me to eat apricots for them, that’s even better. Considering that apricot season in Israeli very short, only about two months, it’s an extra incentive to take advantage of the soft, sweet little apricots before they disappear from the supermarkets for another ten months.

So, how do you make the game?

  1. Find a shoebox that you don’t need.
  2. From the cover, cut a few circles of various sizes.
  3. Assign different point values to the different size holes, with the smaller holes being more points. (It’s kind of like skeeball.)
  4. Close the box, and go grab your gogo’im and some friends.

How is the game played?

  1. The game came be played while sitting or standing.
  2. The shoebox is placed on the floor (or ground outside), and players must stand a certain distance away.
  3. In turn, each player tosses a gogo at the box, trying to land it in a hole.
  4. The number of points accrued before the bell rings equals the number of gogo’im you win off the other players’ collections.

    Israelis, please let me know in the comments if you play differently!

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Easy 5-Ingredient No-Bake Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake

There are some childhood flavors that stick with you no matter where you move. For me, it’s peanut butter that’s stuck. This easy, 5-ingredient cheesecake brings together the nostalgic flavor of a classic American sandwich and a popular Israeli no-bake cheesecake recipe.



The classic Israeli no-bake cheesecake recipe–the one on the back of the Osem tea biscuit box, which is the same recipe the kids bring home from preschool every year–calls for whipping cream with instant pudding, sugar, and gvina levana (soft white cheese) and layering with biscuits soaked in milk. I have a few issues with this. Why does cheesecake need cream, anyways? As far as I can tell, what the cream adds is fat, i.e. flavor, and supposedly fluffiness, which I never seem to achieve. I am generally unsuccessful with whipping. It doesn’t matter whether it’s cream or eggs, whether I use a whisk, a hand mixer, or the whipping attachment on my food processor, I seem to be always falling short of the sought-after “stiff, white peaks.” This is probably a sign of lack of patience. The instant pudding mix, as I understand, is meant to dry up and stiffen the cheese mixture, as well as sweeten. But since the cheese mixture is now dry, the tea biscuits now need to be soaked in milk to soften them. Am I the only one who thinks we’re making a lot of unnecessary extra work for ourselves here?

Enter: peanut butter. Thicker than gvina levana or cream, full of fat and flavor. We’ve just replaced pudding mix, heavy cream, ten minutes of standing over the mixer and five minutes of digging it out of the closet and washing it with one ingredient. I love peanut butter.

Peanut butter, as wonderful as it is, needs a partner. My favorite pairing for peanut butter is usually chocolate. In fact, this cheesecake filling would probably be perfect for making a Reese’s cheesecake by using chocolate tea biscuits instead of vanilla, eliminating the jam, and throwing a handful of chocolate chips into the filling. (Ooh, I may need to go make another cheesecake.) Today, however, I had a jar of strawberry jam asking for attention, so peanut butter and jelly cheesecake it is.

Warning: This five-ingredient no-bake peanut butter and jelly cheesecake is so dangerously quick and easy, not to mention delicious, that you just may end up making it every week. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Easy, Five-Ingredient No-Bake Peanut Butter and Jelly Cheesecake

makes 1 medium cheesecake


750 grams gvina levana
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3-1/2 cup sugar, depending how sweet you want
about 1/4 cup fruit jam
about 30 plain (vanilla) tea biscuits
crushed peanuts (optional, for garnish)


  1. Mix peanut butter, sugar, and gvina levana in a medium bowl with a spoon.
  2. Spread jam on one side of enough tea biscuits to cover the bottom of your pan. Place them in the pan JAM SIDE UP.
  3. Spread a generous layer of peanut butter cheesecake filling over the tea biscuits. Repeat.
  4. The third layer of biscuits put JAM SIDE DOWN so the top layer of peanut butter cheesecake filling spreads more nicely. Think of it like a lasagna with noodles right under the top layer of sauce instead of cheese filling.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours, or overnight, in order to allow the moisture from the cheesecake filling to soak into the tea biscuits and the whole cake to set.
  6. Garnish with a sprinkle crushed peanuts on top to serve, if you want the cheesecake to look fancier, and to add a little crunch.


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Yom Yerushalayim 2017- Forever My Jerusalem

One spring evening, a few years ago, I was privileged to be part of a small group of women sitting on the porch of Puah Shteiner in Jerusalem’s Old City, listening to her first-hand account of her exile from and return to the Old City. In her book, “Forever My Jerusalem,” she describes her childhood in Jerusalem’s Old City and its seige and surrender in 1948. She also recounts her feelings upon returning nineteen years later, after Israel’s miraculous victory in the Six Day War, the Old City once again in Jewish hands.

“The vaulted road shut out the sunlight. The sudden darkness caused my heart to to beat faster, just as it had when I was a little girl taking the 2a bus home from school. The street gradually widened and opened up tot the sun again. The further we walked, the more excited I became. Soon we would reach the turn in the road. Here the old bus used to slow down, scraping the wall of the narrow street as it squeezed through.

A few more steps, and there it was–Zion Gate. The gate was now wide open. Trembling, I walked up to it and leaned my head on the stones. I saw a newly scrawled inscription ‘Shema Yisrael…Hear O Israel, The L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is one!’

‘We left the Old City from here,” I whispered hoarsely, seeing in my mind’s eye the throngs of people pushing and pulling as they all tried to squeeze through the narrow opening in the blockade. It was a miracle that we had all managed to escape with our lives. I stood still and recited the blessing aloud: “Blessed art Thou…Who performed a miracle for me on this spot!””


My family no longer lives in Jerusalem, but now my son has Rebbetzin Puah Shteiner’s son as his school principal!

When you love someone or something so much that words are limiting, there are pictures. You can find beautiful, professional pictures of Jerusalem online. These are a few shots of my Jerusalem:


A photo my 5 year old snapped of the Chords Bridge while taking a break from playing ball


A dove’s nest on our windowsill


Kanfei Nesharim Street the day after a snowstorm


The bus wishes people “Happy Chanukah”

2014-11-19 07.49.37

cement block placed near a light rail stop to discourage terrorists from running over people waiting for the train, November 2014

And because this is primarily a food blog, you might be interested in this Arutz 7 article on Food in Jerusalem Today.

Happy Yom Yerushalayim!

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Granola-Crust Cheesecake Fruit Tart

As the holiday of Shavuot nears, the smell of cheesecake is in the air. Well, not just yet, but at least the recipes are already flying around the internet and the playground benches. We eat cheesecake on Shavuot because it is delicious. There is also a custom to eat dairy foods on Shavuot because we received the Torah on Shavuot, including the laws of kosher food. Before there were laws of what animals were kosher and how to slaughter them properly, it was safest to stick with dairy. In the Song of Songs(4:11), the Torah is also referred to as “honey and milk under your tongue.” Rav Kook explains that both milk and honey are foods that come from forbidden sources–honey from bees and milk processed in the animal’s body from blood, but they themselves are permissible to consume, symbolizing “fixing the world,” which the Torah also has the power to do, as does the Land of Israel, which is called the “Land of Milk and Honey.” (Pninei Halacha on Festivals)


This beautiful tart is sweetened with honey and filled with cheese. The fruit topping is also a nod to a different Shavuot theme. Shavuot is the holiday when bikkurim, the first fruits of the Seven Species of Israel were brought to the Temple in Jerusalem. This tart features fresh, seasonal fruit, but the fruit theme is still a reminder of the special fruit of bikkurim.

I enjoy rich, decadent cheesecakes, but traditional cheesecakes full of butter and cream don’t always feel as good in my stomach as they did on my tongue. This light, fruity treat is the perfect ending to a big holiday meal, when you really don’t want anything rich and heavy. My taste testers described it as “tangy,” “like lemon meringue pie,” and “reminiscent of key lime pie.” All good things. And it contains no butter, cream, or eggs.

The granola base can be made days in advance and frozen until the time of assembly. The filling should be made at least a few hours before assembly in order to give the Chia seeds time to work their gel magic. This tart takes more work than I usually put into a cake, but Shavuot is only once a year. If this looks delicious but daunting, contact me about ordering options.

Granola-Crust Cheesecake Fruit Tart Recipe


2 cups whole oats (not quick oats)
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup ground almonds
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup oil (preferably coconut oil)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

500 grams (about 2 cups) soft white cheese (gvina levana– I prefer Ski)
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon Chia seeds


3-4 pieces of assorted fresh fruit, sliced thin

1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon liquid sweetener (honey/maple syrup/apple juice concentrate/agave nectar)


  1. Line bottom of round standard size pie pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Mix together crust ingredients and press into lined pie pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden. (See picture above.) Cool completely before adding cheese layer. This may be stored in a sealed bag in the freezer.
  3. Make the cheese filling: Sift together the cornstarch and powdered sugar and mix with a spoonful of the soft cheese. Add to the rest of the cheese. Add lemon zest and Chia seeds. Mix thoroughly and let sit for a few hours or overnight.
  4. Assemble: Spread the cheese filling evenly over the crust, in a circular motion, working from the inside out.
  5. Lay the fruit on top of the cheese mixture in a decorative pattern.
  6. Make a glaze with lemon juice, water and liquid sweetener. Brush over the top of the fruit to prevent browning.
  7. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
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Summer-Friendly One-Pot Shabbos Solution: Couscous Chicken

Even people who love to cook, like me, have those weeks when they don’t want to spend all Friday in the kitchen. In the winter, Fridays are simply too short, but chicken soup and cholent are a popular, easy go-to meals. In the summer, Shabbos starts later, but who wants to spend all day standing over a hot stove when it’s in the 30s outside? (Celcius. I’ll save you the math. That’s 90s Farenheit.) Some people even take family trips on long summer Fridays.


This couscous chicken recipe is versatile, healthy, filling, and quick to put together. It’s also dry enough to put on a warming tray on a timer for Shabbos morning. That means less heat and less cooking. If you make enough, you really can serve this one dish for multiple meals. As a bonus, this chicken is made in a large baking dish that can be brought to the table, so there are minimal dishes to wash. No wonder it’s a family favorite. 🙂

Are you wondering why half the chicken and couscous is covered in vegetables? It’s not because I ran out of zucchini or because I was too snap-happy with my camera to wait until I was done layering the veggies. When I said it’s a versatile dish, I mean the vegetables and spices can be adapted based on your family’s taste. Most of my kids don’t like cooked vegetables, so I leave half of the chicken and couscous clear for them. In the picture, you see zucchini, tomatoes, and onions, but I have also made this with frozen baby carrots and once with frozen green beans. One pan with protein, whole grains, and vegetables. What could be better?

This couscous chicken takes about fifteen minutes to put together and just over an hour in the oven. Why not use the cook time to make a summery dessert like Gluten-Free No-Bake Brownie Bites and chop a salad? There you have it. Shabbos ready in under an hour and a half.

Couscous Chicken Recipe
serves 6-8


cooking spray
2-3 potatoes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 cup uncooked whole wheat couscous
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil or other oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced, or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cups water
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, thinly sliced


  1. Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Thinly slice potatoes and place them to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. (The spices in the couscous will be blocked by the chicken, so the potatoes need their own salt.)
  2. Cut each piece of chicken in half length-wise so it is thinner, more like shnitzel. Cover potatoes with chicken.
  3. Mix spices and oil with couscous. Spread over chicken.
  4. GENTLY pour water into the edge of the pan so that the couscous is mostly covered with water, but be careful not to wash the couscous off the chicken.
  5. Layer sliced vegetables on the couscous, as desired.
  6. Cover and bake at 180C/350F for 60-70 minutes.





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Chili-Free Chili

Recently, I participated in a video conference for write-from-home mothers. One of the tips offered in the lesson on time management was to realize that there is no such thing as a “normal” week for a mother. Over the week since I heard this, one night was eaten up with a class parents meeting, another with parent-teacher conferences, and another with an attempted bonfire. I had kids home on school vacation for two days, and when I took the baby to the doctor this morning, I was told he needs a minor surgical procedure tomorrow. Totally normal week. Because different things always come up. I hope that viewing my schedule in this way will reduce a lot of frustration normally caused by the little things that mess up a rigid schedule in a big way, otherwise known as real life.

Monday was the official school vacation day given for Lag BaOmer for most of the schools in the country. It was also International Museum Day. That magic combination meant that dozens of museums around the country opened their doors to the public free of charge and were swamped with over-tired children and exhausted parents. Even though my two-year-old was home on Sunday and had preschool on Monday, I took her along on the family trip to Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem. It is the most kid-friendly museum in the capital, and with rotating exhibits and guest exhibits, there is always something new for the kids to touch, build, poke, or test.


exhibit comparing different types of wheat and other grains (taken with my left hand while holding baby)



On this museum visit, I was excited to find a new exhibit all about food! We saw plants with different types of roots, honeycombs built around plates and toys, towers of packaged food, comparisons of different types of wheat, and tubes of Spirulina (algae)–the most nutrient-dense food on the planet.  In the same room as the wheat, there was a glass-topped table filled with different types of legumes. Since I’m trying to vary my kids’ diet beyond whole wheat pasta with cottage cheese and ketchup or scrambled eggs and couscous, I called them over to look at the beans. Supposedly, when children participate more in food choice preparation, they are more open to try new things. I challenged them each to choose a legume for me to take for supper later in the week–green lentils, red lentils, yellow lentils, white beans, mung beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, black beans, split peas, chickpeas, etc. I got a few upturned noses, but my five-year-old was really excited about the red kidney beans. So I made chili tonight.


I wanted the kids to actually eat the chili, so I kept it mild. There was a chili recipe on the back of the package, which I adapted slightly. Ironically, chili powder is not easy to find in Israel. So I made chili without chili powder. It was still delicious. Half of my kids even ate it.

Chili-Free Chili Recipe
Serves 4

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
2 1/4 cups pre-soaked beans (from 1 cup dried)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 hot pepper, diced (optional; I didn’t use)
1 cup corn kernels
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
100 grams (a little less than 1/2 cup) tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup diced scallions, for garnish (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a medium pot. Saute onion and garlic.
  2. Add beans, spices, and two cups water. Simmer for about an hour. If using canned beans, skip this step and move on to step 3.
  3. Add the peppers, corn, tomato paste, and one more cup of water. Simmer for another hour.
  4. Remove bay leaf before serving.
  5. Serve over brown rice, garnished with scallions.

*I made this on the stove-top, but it would work great in a slow-cooker (which I have never used, so I can’t give details).

Like Mexican food? Try Vegan Burritos with Easy Refried Beans




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Green Salad with Avocado Dressing

Kermit said it best: It’s not easy being green.  I love a colorful table. Vegetables of different colors each contain high amounts of different vitamins and nutrients, and dietitians and nutritionists will recommend eating from the different categories of fruits and vegetables. Red, orange and yellow, blue and purple, and of course green vegetables all contribute to a healthy, balanced diet.  Usually, I like to mix them up. I even throw yellow pepper into classic Israeli salad. Sometimes, though, you just need something clean and green.

green detox salad

This salad is all green, and it tastes even better than it looks, thanks to the creamy avocado dressing. My green leafy base is Romaine lettuce, but spinach would work well in this salad, too. I added parsley, cucumber, avocado chunks, and crunchy green pumpkin seeds for a variety of textures. The starring flavor in this salad is the lemony avocado dressing, which also makes the salad more filling. One color but tons of taste!

avocado dressing

It's not easy being green
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're
Not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky

If you pass this salad over for the ones full of fruits, nuts, and crushed Doritos, you will be sorry.

When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful
And I think it's what I want to be


Green Salad with Avocado Dressing
4 generous servings

For the salad:
3 cups Romaine lettuce, torn OR baby spinach leaves
1 cup parsley, chopped
2 small cucumbers, sliced
1/2 large, ripe avocado, cubed
1/4 cup  green pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

For the dressing:
1/2 ripe avocado
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup water


  1. Cut salad ingredients and put in large bowl.
  2. Put dressing ingredients in good processor or blender and process until smooth. Don’t try to save time by skipping the lemon zest because it adds soooo much flavor. Likewise, the garlic should be crushed so you don’t end up with chunks that the blender blades missed.


Avocado fan? Try these recipes:

Ratatouille-Inspired Mediterranean Grain Bowl


Sunny Avocado Salad


Vegan Burritos with Easy Refried Beans


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Budget Tip #1: Waste Not, Want Not

I had some tomatoes and peppers that were starting to look over the hill, not rotten or moldy, but definitely tired. Normally, I use vegetables like this in soup or tomato sauce. It’s been heating up, however, and I don’t want to be eating a lot of hot food. So, for the first time ever, I made matbucha, mild matbucha. Sefardim might scoff at the lack of spice in this traditional Morrocan dip, but my family liked it better than store-bought matbucha. The ripe vegetables give the dip a sweet taste, and the garlic and paprika flavors are prominent.

Matbucha is usually spread on challah or pita, along with chummus, and other salads. However, it is also delicious on pasta salad or eaten straight from a bowl with a spoon.

I have known many women over the years who made all of their own dips and spreads. One used to put up a big pot of matbucha on Friday morning and let it cook all day. I did a little recipe-perusing and a little kitchen-testing and discovered that making home-made matbucha is really quite simple. I will definitely do this again.


Matbucha Recipe
Yield: 2 cups


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 bell peppers (I used 1 orange and 1 red), chopped
5  ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 hot pepper, diced (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika


  1. Heat olive oil in a small pot. Saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Serve on challah or pita, along with your favorite dips.

Looking for other dips and spreads? Try these:
Pull-Apart Roasted Garlic Eggplant


Poor Man’s Pesto


Pesto spread on cracker

Sunny Avocado Salad


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Citizenship, Stalactite Caves, and Star Cupcakes

Twelve years ago, on May 3, 2005, I became officially Israeli. I had already been living in Israel for a year and a half, but I updated my status to “citizen.” The whole thing was rather anti-climactic–no Nefesh B’Nefesh hats, no speeches, no groups of dancing Israeli soldiers, not even a friend flying with me, just a couple of representatives from AACI and the Jewish Agency holding a sign with my name, waiting to walk me to the absorption office in the airport. I stood in the small, windowless office, daydreaming about sleep while answering basic questions posed by the clerk. When I told her the address of my college dorm, she looked up from the computer. “I studied there thirty years ago!” she exclaimed. “Wonderful institution. Is the founder still teaching?” I answered in the affirmative. Israel really is, in many ways, like one big family. That was a truly special welcome.


Yesterday was Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s 69th Independence Day. It’s a day when every park is full of charcoal smoke and every highway clogged with cars, a day to get out and enjoy the land we so appreciate. With two kids who get carsick, one toilet training, and one nursing, we were not ready for a major road trip yesterday. Instead, we found someplace close to home where none of us had been before, the Stalactite Cave Nature Reserve. It was spectacular!


What planet are we on?


Stalactite “petting corner”

Walking among these natural wonders, ironically felt like walking through the set of a fantasy movie. Gentle, artificial lighting that changed colors every few seconds lit up the walkway as well as the large and small mineral formations in the cave. There are long, thin stalactites that resemble spaghetti but are called macaroni because they are hollow. The ground is covered with rock colonies that look like coral or gray broccoli. This is the small stuff. Many of the stalactites hanging from the ceiling and stalagmites jutting up from the ground are bigger than me. One thing I was not expecting was the 95% humidity and wet floor in the cave. I should have realized that if stalactites are formed by water seeping through the rock above the cave the cave would be wet, but I didn’t think about it much. Our guided tour in the cave was about an hour long, enough time to enjoy without being dragged out and the kids getting bored.


Stalactite, meet stalagmite.


The icing on the cake cave

We ended the day attending a double birthday party, triple if you count Israel’s 69th. How could I not make cupcakes? In honor of Yom HaAtzmaut, I baked the cupcakes in blue and white striped holders and marbleized six-pointed star shapes in the centers. They are pretty standard vanilla cupcakes, but the applesauce and whole wheat flour lend a slightly earthy flavor. Happy birthday!


Marble Cupcakes Recipe
Yield: 30 cupcakes

1 cup oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (70%)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup water
*1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder


  1. In a large bowl, mix oil, applesauce, vanilla and sugar.
  2. Add eggs and mix thoroughly.
  3. Add dry ingredients and mix until thoroughly combined. The batter will be thick at this point.
  4. Add a cup of water (or juice or milk of choice) and stir into batter, being careful not to splash.
  5. Spoon batter into 30 greased cupcake holders. Leave about two tablespoons of batter in the bowl.
  6. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  7. Mix cocoa into the end of the batter. Use a teaspoon to drop a tiny bit of chocolate cake batter into the center of each cupcake.
  8. To form the stars: Using a toothpick or the blade of a knife, gently pull across the surface, out from the middle of the chocolate drop towards the edge of the cupcake, in six directions. Do not dip the toothpick or knife deep down into the cupcake.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes.

*If you want to make regular marble cupcakes, twice as much cupcake batter in the bowl and double the amount of cocoa powder. Drop more generously, and dip as deeply as you want while marbleizing.


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Yom Hazikaron

I remember my first trip to Israel, summer 2001. On my program of about 100 girls, there were four Israelis. We were headed up north when Sbarro’s Pizzeria was bombed. The bus turned around to drop off two girls at a gas station, to meet their parents, who took them to the funeral of their friend Malki Roth.

I remember my first year in Israel. In September 2003, just a few days after arriving, from my seminary near Shaarei Tzedek hospital, we heard the sirens announcing the bombing of Cafe Hillel and the death of Naava Applebaum and her father, the night before her wedding. All year, the sirens continued, at first every few days, then slowing to once every few weeks.

I remember the summer of 2006, during the Second Lebanon War, my date cancelled to attend the funeral of American lone soldier Michael Levin.

I remember the evening in 2008 when a terrorist walked into my husband’s yeshiva with a machine gun hidden in a box and killed Neria Cohen, Segev Pniel Avichayil, Avraham David Moses, Yehonatan Yitzchak Eldar, Ro’i Roth, Yohai Lipshitz, Yonadav Chaim Hirshfeld, and Doron Mahareta.

I remember the morning, a year and one week after our wedding, when my husband stepped into a uniform the color of his eyes and out the door. I knew that uniform makes a prime target. He returned with a gun and a sunburn, week after week, for six months, thank G-d. A war broke out during that time, but since he was still in training, he didn’t need to fight.

I remember the polite, eager learner in the ninth grade who sat in the front row. A few months after I stopped teaching in her school, Odelya was waiting for a bus home when a bomb hidden in the garbage can beside her exploded. Last I heard, Odelya Nechama bat Michal had been in a coma for over five years.

I remember the relief I felt when my husband’s reserve duty, scheduled for the summer my fourth child was born, was cancelled. Rockets started flying at Jerusalem just days before the birth. In the hospital waiting room, while I counted contractions, he joked, “What if I got called up now?” Not funny. His cousin, due a month after me, spent those weeks sick with worry over her husband in Gaza, who was released shortly before the birth. Many of our friends or their husbands were called up, and all I knew personally came back, but not all without PTSD still plaguing them years later.

I remember sirens the morning I left my first-grader to wait for a bus to school in a neighborhood where five rabbis were being slaughtered while standing in prayer. One of them, Aryeh Kupinsky, my teacher’s son and a man of large stature, tried to fight off the attackers and give others time to escape.

I remember the car that rammed into the bus stop down the block, the teenagers caught with knives about to enter the synagogue around the corner, the stabbings at the Central Bus Station, the sirens, more sirens, always sirens.

Tonight, we will celebrate the country’s independence. Today, we remember those who paid the price for this country with their lives. At eleven o’clock, another siren will sound, and the whole country will stand and remember.

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