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Living in Israel – It is Just Beautiful


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The place and the people here are just beautiful

I had one of the most special experiences the other day.  Now that I live in Israel you may expect me to talk about things like…

My day of business meetings, in Jerusalem… did you hear that?  Jerusalem.

The day began with the incredible Chef Yochanan Lambiase and a tour of his Jewish Culinary Institute, JCI, the only Mehadrin cooking program in the world.

This is a pict I snapped with my phone of the girls program, in session.  They were in the midst of a cookie class while the boys program next door worked on knife skills.  My heart filled with such pride as I saw these young, eager, hopeful culinary students in the heart of Jerusalem learn the art of cooking from a master chef with unparalleled vision.  The entire JCI is the brainchild of Lambiase.  After a 4 month course Chef Lambiase will place the students in intensive 1-month on site internships around the world.  I MUST do an entire feature on JCI sometime in the coming months.  But in the meantime to enroll for the next semester or support this incredible place please visit JCICHEF.

Or maybe you expect me to write about the tears that formed in the corners of my eyes as I walked to my next meeting with the Executive Director of the Jerusalem Cinematheque.  The Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival held at the cinematheque hosted a special screening of Joy of Aliyah in its entirety followed by a panel discussion entitled Aliyah… A Recipe For Success.

It was an incredible event.

We lunched at a lovely cafe in Begin Center and enjoyed this gorgeous view.

As I walked to hail a cab for my next meeting I realized I was right next to the famous windmill I had always seen from afar but never close up.  So I took a one minute detour and walked through a small park toward the windmill with a woman who called out to me on the street.  She recognized me and turns out she is a good friend and neighbor of my step-mother-in-law.  So we strolled together.  I could feel the uneven ridges of the Jerusalem stone under my feet and thought, this is it, this is where I am meant to be and that’s when the tears formed.


I snapped a picture and hailed a cab to my next meeting. Before running home to my son’s Gan Chanukah play, entirely in Hebrew, at which I choked back tears as well.

But I actually blogged today to tell you about a special person, no make that two special people I had the pleasure of spending time with this past week — famous French-Israeli cookbook author, food blogger and columnist for the Hebrew version of Mishpacha Magazine, Maryline Ayalon and her friend Rivka.

Maryline contacted me to do a story about me for her gorgeous blog.  Which you must check out even if you don’t know Hebrew.  Her photographs will inspire you and you can also purchase her book A Week In Marlyine’s Kitchen, also in Hebrew (boohoo, for those of us that can’t hang) there.

When Maryline reached out to me I thought, sure, fine, sweet, nice, I’ll meet her and really thought nothing more of it.  Well she showed up on a bright warm December morning with her friend Rivka who came in the capacity of translator.  In the end my Hebrew and Maryline’s English were good enough that we got by without Rivka’s assistance so she quickly morphed into social caller and sous chef and we chit chatted, the three of us, like old girlfriends.

Maryline didn’t show up empty handed but rather with both hands bearing gifts (I guess that’s how the French-Israeli’s do it – oy I have to quickly learn!).  Her right hand clutched a bouquet of fresh za’atar and sage from her garden, her left a platter of kadayif best described as a sweet spicy ball of baklava.

The aroma of cloves was just too much for me to bare and I broke my diet right then and there and continued my hiatus until the entire tray was demolished.

Rivka, Israeli born but of Hungarian descent brought me a homemade babka which we saved and savored on Shabbos as a family.
persimmon salsa
Together we made one of my new weekly staples, Persimmon Salsa.  It’s actually a riff on Peach Salsa from the summer issue of the magazine for which I showed it over grilled chicken legs.  But now peaches are not in season so I swapped them for persimmons which it turns out I much prefer.  We chopped, cooked, tossed and photographed together.  Well really Maryline photographed and I stood by giving my very really and important input like “yes” “gorgeous” stunning “perfect” – not sure what she would have done without me.

The morning was a beautiful meeting of the minds.  Maryline shared her frustrations and memories as a new oleh 25 years ago at the age of 17 from France.  She is beautiful inside and out – she has a chen about her which can best be described as a glow.  We parted promising to see one another again.  I feel so welcomed by the food community here… and I hope that we have the chance to share more salads and sweets together.

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About Jamie Geller


Jamie Geller is the only best-selling cookbook author who wants to get you out of the kitchen – not because she doesn’t love food – but because she has tons to do. As “The Bride Who Knew Nothing” Jamie found her niche specializing in fast, fresh, family recipes. Now the "Queen of Kosher" (CBS) and the "Jewish Rachael Ray" (New York Times), she's the creative force behind JoyofKosher.com and "Joy of Kosher with Jamie Geller" magazine . Jamie and her hubby live in Israel with their five busy kids who give her plenty of reasons to get out of the kitchen - quickly. Check out her new book, "Joy of Kosher: Fast, Fresh Family Recipes."




22 Responses to Living in Israel – It is Just Beautiful

  1. I am so looking forward to experiencing Israel next year…I am glad I can see it through your eyes now…love your site!

  2. avatar says: chanie

    Maryline’s blog is gorgeous and google was kind enough to translate for me!

  3. avatar says: ItaAriela

    Maryline’s blog is beautiful. The food looks yummy and the following the recipes is a fun way to learn hebrew..I can’t wait to try them!

  4. I see some of the young women in the background who are studying at Midreshet Devora’s joint program witht he Jerusalem Culinary Institute!

  5. A beautiful post – so pleased you’ve landed on your feet.

  6. I loved reading about this, I can’t wait to join you there hopefully in the not too distant future.

  7. I love this post. Thanks for sharing glimpses into your Israeli foodie adventures. Looking forward to more!

  8. I LOVE this post and I am obsessed with those sweet spicy balls of baklava. Definitely going to have to recreate those :)

  9. Will definitely be taking tons of beautiful photos on my upcoming trip (food and otherwise)

  10. Mega-like… To all three of you! From Tamar the matchmaker ;)

  11. I loved reading about your day in Jerusalem, so special! What an amazing blog Maryline has! I wish my hebrew was better. And I never knew your cookbook was translated into hebrew (I saw a pic on her blog), that’s so cool!

  12. Those kadayif look delicious..I can see why you broke your diet for them!

  13. What an amazing day! I loved reading about it. Thanks so much for sharing.

  14. Thank you all, and kisses to Jamie

  15. avatar says: geulm

    I would like to receive your mails. Thank you

  16. Well I haven’t been back to Israel for several years now and would love to return. You made it seem so much closer and, of course, so beautiful. Your words evoke feelings of nostalgia and desire. The photos make it even more real. Just lovley.

  17. hi,
    this is not so mucha comment as a question.

    i am a little confused as i have been watching a lot of you recipes and have noticed you use the same surface for meat and dairy recipes.

    likewise you seem to use the same oven regardless of the recipe being either meat or dairy.

  18. hi Chaya! how very astute of you — so there are a few answers to your Qs. Regarding the ovens: 1. I had 2 ovens that look exactly the same 2. for the videos I sometimes self cleaned my top oven because it was a better angle for the camera 3. or sometimes I cheat the shot and put in something covered and cold and most likely empty into an oven that is not actually on (while the real food is cooking in my other oven). These are set tricks we use mostly for the angle, the lights and the fact that we shoot on a budget under intense time constraints. As for the surface. It’s a granite surface on my meat side and I never put any HOT dairy directly on that side but for the sake of the shoot/again the camera angles I do prepare COLD dairy there – very carefully. Additionally I do have similar looking cutting boards for meat and dairy AND I have doubles of the same brand of Wustof knives for meat and dairy. Let me know if you have any other Qs.

    • you’re amazing you think of everrything, although it would be even better if you occassionally pointed all this out lest people get the wrong ideas or get confused like i did ;-)

  19. Hi Chaya — you make a GREAT point. I was so happy to receive your comment and have a chance to respond here b/c chas v’shalom I wouldn’t anyone to get the wrong idea. Bli neder when shooting in the future I will consider mentioning something along those lines if it still applies.

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