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Rally in Netanya in support of IDF soldiers
Photo by Rhonda Prepes

Netanya Beach

What to do if you hear a siren while driving in a car
Photo by Rhonda Spivak

Cheryl Hechter making shakshuka
Photo by Rhonda Prepes


Rhonda Prepes in Israel: Preparing for an Emergency and Eating Shakshuka

by Rhonda J. Prepes, written July 24, 2014, posted Aug 10, 2014


Netanya held its own rally on July 23, 2014, as in Winnipeg and other cities in North America. About 2500 enthusiastic people turned out in the city square to sing songs, dance, wave flags and show their support for the IDF soldiers currently fighting in Gaza. The crowd was full of young and old, Israelis, tourists, and many French that make their home in Netanya or come for vacation. I have never seen such a patriotic display of love for one’s country. It was amazing to see everyone with their arms around each other waving the Israeli flag and singing “Am Israel Chai” (The nation of Israel lives).


I go into a grocery store on a Thursday night to find out that that is the busiest time as people have finished work and are shopping for Shabbat (Friday night meal) the next day. The store is packed and the lines ups at the tills are long and barely moving. Not the greatest customer service. But the Israelis in line don’t seem to mind, they are eating their Thursday night meal while waiting in line. I am not talking about sampling a grape or two. I see people eating cookies, candy, plums, cucumbers, nuts, and a piece of frozen pizza in line.


I go to the beach in Netanya. I am wearing my sexy plus-size one-piece bathing suit flaunting my assets trying to attract single men. No luck. My happily married friend goes into the sea and in a matter of minutes she is asked out on a date by a 42 year old single Israeli man. What am I doing wrong here?


I drive with some friends to Caesaria. The driver thinks, and I agree that I should know what to do if I hear a siren alerting of an incoming rocket if I am in a vehicle. So this friend, a former Sargent Major in the U.S. army who fought in Iraq, decides to give me some training.


She says, “In the U. S. of A. we practise until we do things right. Not like in Israel. In Israel they give each person a gas mask in case of gas warfare, but tell you not to open the package until you need it. How will you know how to use it if you can’t open it until you need it?”


She proceeds to give me directions on what to do in case I hear a siren alerting of an incoming rocket if I am in a vehicle. Pull the car over to the far right. Stop the car. Get out of the car. Either crouch down at the side of the car or lie down and cover your head with your hands.


I have tried many new foods while I have been in Israel and all have been delicious: fresh lychee, fresh figs, carob off the tree, eggplant, squash, Bulgarian cheese, chicken schnitzel, shwarma (hot shaved chicken in a pita with cabbage, tomato, cucumber, tahini, and hummus), kubbah (a Moroccan torpedo-shaped fried croquette made of cracked wheat stuffed with onions and finely ground lean beef), Moroccan meat cigars (fried egg rolls stuffed with onions and finely ground lean beef) and more. But the best new food I have eaten has to be shakshuka.


It’s a vegetarian one-skillet meal that is easy to make and healthy to eat. It is a dish of poached eggs in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers and onions. Shakshuka can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


Former Winnipegger Cheryl Hechter even showed me how to make a batch. Here is her recipe for Shakshuka. Prep Time: 10 Minutes   Total Time: 30 - 40 minutes


Cheryl's shakshuka recipe:

2- 4 tbsp olive oil (don't be stingy)

4 clove garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, chopped

4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each)

1/2 hot fresh chili pepper diced (or chilli powder if you don't have)

Depending on the style you like, add 1 tsp of cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper or fresh basil and oregano for a more Italian flavour.

Kosher salt and pepper generously to taste

5-6 eggs

(optional: feta cheese on top)

Servings: 5-6


Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is slightly brown.

Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium heat.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir until blended. Add spices, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Add sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka.

Crack the eggs, one at a time (approx. 6), directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. The eggs will cook "over easy" style on top of the tomato sauce.

Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced.

Serve with a spatula straight out of the pan.


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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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