Translation from Hebrew and Photos: Rachel Gottlieb
I walked hand in hand with my young daughter down the beautifully decorated path to the Ein Bustan kindergarten in Hilf village, like any other ordinary day. I was observing the sun as it shone on the colorful stones set in the path, when suddenly I heard the voice of the teacher: “So, you are coming on Tuesday to make date cookies, correct?!”
Date cookies? Tuesday? Of course I would be happy to: who would not be willing to make an effort for even a tiny bit of a date cookie? But what is the
“It’s for Eid El Adha, the holiday of the Sacrifice, didn’t you know?”
To be truthful - I knew nothing. I had thought the moon and stars decorating the kindergarten were connected to a story about the Creation of the World or something. That was a short but significant moment when I felt that I could understand a bit more [about another religion and culture], and eat a tasty date cookie into the bargain.
Tuesday arrived, and in the early evening a group of teachers, mothers, and a few children gathered in the kindergarten. We washed our hands, prepared ourselves - and promptly set down to work. But oh my! Huge bowls of dough keep appearing, as well as huge round platters that need to be filled with cookies. Among them are also bowls filled with some brown stuff…probably we will find out what this is for as the evening continues.“Now - to work!” the teacher declares: “Roll, knead, put the filling in, turn it around, give it a pinch and there you go - a wonderful date cookie!”
After one or two (Ok, maybe 10) attempts - we completed a platter…and then another…and then another…and without noticing, the kindergarten was filled with the sound of laughter and enjoyment, as well as the bustle of work. You could hear sentences in Arabic, Hebrew and even English. In the flash of the cameras documenting us (by those who preferred to photograph instead of working!) the table and kitchen filled with cookies. Big ones, little ones, fat ones or thin ones, it didn’t matter: date cookies for Eid El Adha. I made a note to myself, how an evening of cookie making make you feel fulfilled and how it can bring hearts closer, as well as making your taste buds open in anticipation…
Outside in the courtyard, the cookies were baked in a big traditional oven with a rotating tray over an open flame. The pleasant aromas made us all smile, and least we imagine that at this stage we could remain idle, we heard the teacher instructing us to “please turn the cookies over so they will not burn”, since the cookies needed to be evenly baked on both sides. After a slight burn on my right hand, the cookie box started to fill, and at the same time, the children that were there - descended on the cookies!
I should add that as a new parent that only recently joined the Ein Bustan community of families (and having lived in Kiryat Tivon for only the past two weeks), this was the first time I participated in such a special kind of event. At the conclusion of the evening I felt that maybe somewhere up there, where all the big shots are, maybe they just need some date cookies in order to put a smile on their faces and bring their hearts together.
Inshallah! [with God’s help].
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