Monday, November 16, 2009

Seven Angels from Kiryat Malachi in Seattle

Seven Angels: Israeli immigrants from across Africa and the Middle East cook their native dishes for Seattleites.
Article in the JT News, November 13, 2009, written by Erez Ari, JT News correspondent. Photos by Dina Tanners (only 4 were in the article)

Kiryat Malachi, located in the south of Israel, might not be considered an attractive place to many Israelis, but seven women visiting from the region showed off a different side of this little town. Hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, the "Taste of Israel" series of events held during the first week of November gave more than 600 area Jews a glimpse into some of the unique cultures of Israel.

Airport arrival

Seattle fall scenery

During the week, the seven women, Sima Kaduri, Yehudit Shitrit, Rina Golan, Aliza Surit, Clara Davidov, Chilot Gethon, and Mazal Caravani, all originally hailing from different parts of the world, participated in a series of public events in which each of them cooked and shared with the audience some of their authentic ethnic foods, as well as insights into their lives and histories. Some of the women suffered incredible hardships until until they finally settled in Israel, and they shared those tales with their audiences.

The person who brought these women together, Smadar Kaplinski, specializes in feminine empowerment. She gathers women from across Israel, and helps them find their inner strengths, then works with them to nurture and grow their gifts and talents. In the case of the Kiryat Malachi group, these talents are cooking, and the ultimate goal of the project is to establish a commercial entity to harness these talents and better the lives of these women.

Kiryat Malachi is a small development town, about 30 miles south of Tel Aviv. Originally named Malachi, or angels in Hebrew, to honor the Jewish community of Los Angeles, which had contributed significantly to its founding, the town was settled by immigrant Jews from Arab nations. Later on, thousands of immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union settled there, making it a diverse and unique community.

Rina Golan, whose parents came from Iraq, serving dessert

Sima Kaduri, 55, was born in Casablanca, Morocco to a well-to-do family. She left her home country while still a baby.

Sima mixing ground beef for kubeh and also meatballs

"My father, who is no longer with us, met my mother when she was merely 12 years (old), and it took two more years for their parents to agree for them to get married," she told one audience. "My parents were well-off financially, as my father was a tailor and served the upper classes and royalty of Morocco."

Upon arriving in Israel, through France, her family was placed in Kiryat Malachi, "in a neighborhood with many ethnic groups that coexisted warmly, and we were all very proud of our new country of Israel," Kaduri said. "I grew to become a kindergarten teacher, and did that for 35 wonderful years, which also involved teaching preschool teachers how to work with special needs children."

Kaduri retired a year ago and joined the Ethnic Flavors group to be able to share her native Moroccan cooking with people both in Israel and abroad, she said.

The women told stories, danced, and sang in their native dress, and, of course, with the help of many local volunteers, cooked and shared the delicacies of their native countries.

Mazal C. leading singing at Congregation Beth Shalom

The Jewish Federations of Tucson, Phoenix, and Seattle, all of which have a long-standing relationship with Kiryat Mlachi and the Hof Ashkelon region, have formed a partnership, named TIPS, that works toward several goals in improving the livelihoods of the people who live there. This visit is one result of their work.

Clara D (From Bukhara) and Aliza S (whose parents came from Iraq) explaining the special spice mix (house blend)
One such goal," Federation volunteer Dina Tanners told JTNews, "is the strengthening of Kiryat Malachi, an often-neglected area of Israel, and the second is supporting and strengthing the relationship between the people of American (Jewish) communities with the people of Kiryat Malachi." Tanners said that this cooperation has also helped to facilitate exchange of social workers, teachers, students, camp counselors, as well as many volunteer projects.

Many of the recipes (of the food) the women cooked have been collected in a special booklet published by the TIPS partnership. (Extra copies are available at the Seattle Jewish Federation.)

Mazal and Rabbi Borodin
Chilot serving her special bread, dabu
cooking sfing

stuffed peppers

grilling eggplant over an open fire

Yehudit serving Moroccan dishes
Clara and Mazal

table filled with foods from Morocco

Clara, Aliza, and Sima show off piles of their mufleta

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