The Universal Language of Food

The Universal Language of Food

By Lior Doron

Lior Doron is part of Federation’s Congregational Shlichim Program, coming to our community from Tel Aviv to act as Israeli emissary to Temple Rodef Shalom to transform the relationships and enhance the personal connections of congregants and students with Israel and Israelis.

One thing that always made me feel uniquely Israeli is my diet. I’m reminded of it when we have lunch at our office in Temple Rodef Shalom and my co-workers joke that I eat too many vegetables, or that I am obsessed to apples, or that I eat everything with tahini.

Israeli food is so different and distinctive, combining various spices and flavors as eclectic as the people in the “Israeli melting pot.” Culinary influences of Jews from all over the world create a diverse cuisine with a strong Jewish element—most dishes don’t contain pork or mix diary and meat together.

Sometimes when I talk to people about Israeli food they only know about hummus, falafel and shawarma, but there is so much more!  For example, we have jachnin, a pastry that every Israeli loves to eat for breakfast on Shabbat;  we have kuskus that we eat with rich vegetable soup; burekah, a puff pastry with cheese in it; and so many delicious snacks like marshmallow puff on cookie covered with chocolate, chocolate with pop rocks, peanut butter cheese puffs and much more.

My ultimate favorite Israeli dish is Shakshukah. Every Shabbat morning, I would wake up to the smell of the sautéed onions wafting upstairs from the kitchen and know that it was shakshukah time! My sisters and I would go downstairs in our PJ’s. As my mom prepared the table, my little sister would make the Israeli salad, my older sister helped with chopping the tomatoes and I was the tahini expert. We would cook like that with Shlomo Artzi, one of my favorite Israeli singers, playing in the background, This memory will forever be my Shabbat morning in Israel.

Even though I’m far from home, this memory comforts me. A day before Rosh Hashanah, we invited all the young professionals of Temple Rodef Shalom and we hosted a shakshukah brunch with mimosas and challah. The program brought back great memories from home, Shakshukah tahini, Israeli salad and Shlomo Artzi in the background, a true Israeli family Shabbat morning.

Here’s my dad’s recipe that we used for our brunch. I hope you’ll try it and enjoy it!


Lior’s Dad’s Shakshukah recipe


  • Onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 Eggplants
  • 1 red bell papers
  • 1 table spoon of paprika
  • 1 hot pepper (optional)
  • 1 table spoon of fresh basil (optional)
  • Feta cheese (optional)
  • (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with juices, coarsely chopped
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  1. Heat the oil in a big skillet. Add onions, red bell peppers, eggplant and hot pepper, and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook until tender. Season with salt pepper paprika (I prefer spicy paprika) you can add cumin and cayenne.
  2. Add tomatoes and simmer until tomatoes thicken.
  3. Stir in crumbled feta.
  4. Crack eggs and cover the pot until egg whites have set and yolk is a little runny.
  5. Add basil to garnish.

Eat with Challah, must Israelis also put tahini on top.

Don’t forget to put Shlomo Artzi in the background! Here’s one of my favorite songs of his

BETEAVON! (enjoy your meal)