Israeli Recipes for Independence Day
Celebrating Yom Ha’atzmaut the Israeli Way
In Israel, most families celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut with a barbecue. The menu often includes fake sausage, hamburgers and French fries.
Families also celebrate with a festive dinner in the evening for more meaning, says Hagit Rodrigues-Garcia. “Yom Ha’atzmaut for me and a lot of Israeli Zionists is a holiday as much as Succot and Shavuot. We go to shul and do tefillah (prayer), sit together and eat together. … It’s a celebration,” she says.
This year, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day, will fall on April 19.
On Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israelis dress in white shirts and blue pants to represent Israel’s flag colors, attend synagogue and return home for singing and celebrating as a family. They may also go to see a concert.
The following day is a special Shabbaton, a non-work day in Israel, and families visit national parks and meaningful sites like Jerusalem.
Rodrigues-Garcia and her husband Haniel are in Baltimore through the Jewish Agency’s program to work in education. Both are teaching at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School; Hagit is teaching Hebrew in the middle school and Haniel is teaching high school Judaics. Six-year-old Na’ama attends first grade in the lower school, 4-year-old Yonatan is in Beth Tfiloh preschool and 2-year-old Yinon attends a program at the Jewish Community Center.
Na’ama is following in her parents’ footsteps — she prepared a Powerpoint presentation and told Beth Tfiloh lower school and middle school classes about her roots. She explained how her family prays for rain to water the trees that were planted in each child’s honor upon birth near their parents’ home in the Golan Heights.
“Beth Tfiloh brought us here to try to give the children a sense of life in Israel and to strengthen their connection to Israel,” says Rodrigues-Garcia.
The Yom Ha’atzmaut menu at the Rodrigues-Garcia home includes ziva, a filled crepe-like pastry, couscous salad, shakshuka and tahina cookies.
Ziva — Dairy or Non-Dairy
1 pkg Malawach (a doughy fried bread that resembles a crepe. Available where Israeli foods are sold.)
5-6 hard boiled eggs (1 per Malawach)
For dairy filling:
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese per Malawach
1 cup cottage cheese
1 tsp paprika
For meat filling:
2 medium or 1 large onion, chopped
1 cup canned or fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic
2 ¼ lb ground beef, browned
1. Defrost Malawach until soft.
2. If preparing dairy filling, mix ingredients together.
3. If preparing meat filling, sauté onions until golden brown. Add mushrooms and garlic. Once fully heated, add beef. Mix well and sauté.
4. Put dairy or meat filling mixture in center of Malawach and roll it to close. Take ends around to meet in a circle and pinch closed. At the center of the circle place whole hard-boiled egg.
5. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheet in oven at 475-degrees until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
1 cup couscous
2 green onion stalks, finely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup oil
1/2 squeezed lemon
1. Cook couscous according to package directions. Refrigerate.
2. Mix in green onions and cranberries.
3. Make the dressing by mixing salt, pepper, cinnamon, oil and lemon juice. Add before eating.
1 Tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped into small pieces
2-3 tomatoes, peeled and cut into small squares
1 cup tomato sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 eggs (1 per person)
1. Heat oil in frying pan. Sauté onion and tomatoes in pan and drain juices.
2. Add tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Break three eggs and fry.
Shakshuka is a North African dish consisting of poached or fried eggs cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions and spices. It was brought to Israel by Tunisian Jews after the Jewish exodus from Arab lands. It is similar to the Latin American breakfast dish huevos rancheros.
2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup plain Tahina - not spicy!
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 pkg sliced almonds (optional)
1. Heat oven to 350-degrees. Grease cookie sheet.
2. Mix all ingredients, except almonds, together and knead the dough (may be a little sticky).
3. Make circles 5-inches in diameter and flatten them.
4. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet, one finger width apart.
5. Place almond pieces on top of cookies according to preference.
6. Place in over for 5-8 minutes. Cookies should be slightly soft and chewy. Let stand until they harden slightly.