By Michelle Larkin
If you’ve been craving homemade Israeli food, or you just want to cook Israeli food because you have nothing else to do during the pandemic, you’re not alone. Terps for Israel students are designing a cookbook loaded with Israeli recipes that will fulfill your cravings and relieve your boredom.
This semester, Abby Elson, a freshman family science major, teamed up with other students to work on the first-ever Terps for Israel cookbook. She took initiative with the Israeli cookbook because she said she was tired of the usual Zoom programs and wanted to engage others with Israeli culture in a different way.
“This idea of a cookbook came to me, and I really liked it because it’s something that people can do on their own at any time,” Elson said. “It’s very exciting that UMD students are going to be able to cook these meals in a time where people are isolated.”
Ayelette Halbfinger, a sophomore operations management & business analytics and marketing major, said the recipes will “help connect readers with the Israeli culture and community” and that the cookbook will serve as a unifying force amid COVID-19.
The cookbook is filled with student recipes of Israeli meals, desserts and drinks. There will be about 50 to 60 recipes, sent by students, in the cookbook. The Israeli recipes will range from traditional to modern.
“You have foods in the cookbook that are more classic, like passed down from generation to generation, and then you have the more modern foods that you would find in popular Israeli restaurants,” Halbfinger said.
One of Elson’s personal favorite recipes in the cookbook is a recipe for tahini cookies sprinkled with sesame seeds. Keren Binyamin, a sophomore marketing and management major and vice president of Terps for Israel, said her “personal favorite” was her own Persian dish tahig submission.
Tahdig, also known as scorched rice in English, is pan-fried Persian rice that is fluffy and buttery on the inside with a slight brown crust.
Other Terps for Israel members will also feature their own recipes in the book. Ben Rosenbaum, a senior history and secondary social studies education major and president of Terps for Israel, is submitting his own Israeli hummus recipe.
“Since Abby’s running it, I’m sure it’ll be done well,” Rosenbaum said.
The cookbook will also consist of about 10 recipes taken from an organization called Taste of Memories, a program that commemorates fallen soldiers in Israel through food recipes. According to Elson, the mission of Taste of Memories’ is similar to what her Israeli cookbook hopes to bring to the university.
“These people who gave their sacrifice for the State of Israel to exist, we honor them in many ways, but one of them is by making the recipes, too,” Elson said. “Their stories will be included in the book as well.”
Terps for Israel students hope the cookbook will not only bring people together and celebrate the Israeli culture during a very tiresome time, but also provide some type of comfort for students who miss traveling to Israel, too.
“They really just want to head back to Israel and they miss it a lot, so food is a really great way to connect to somewhere you can’t really go at this moment,” Binyamin said. “It is a really great way to connect to somewhere you can’t really go at the moment.”
On top of that, Halbfinger mentioned that many students have a strong connection with Israeli and Middle Eastern foods.
“I think food is something that brings up memories and feelings, and really helps recreate special moments,” she said.
The title of the cookbook is still in the works, but one of potential titles they’re thinking about is “Bibi Bites,” which is a witty reference to the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. All of the recipes will be named after notable Israeli icons, as well, to tie Israeli food with Israeli history.
There’s no official date when the Terps for Israel’s cookbook will be out, but they’re aiming to launch the cookbook around mid-April 2021 as part of their Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration. However, the launch of the cookbook could be delayed until May 2021.
The cookbook will be freely accessible as an eBook through Terps for Israel’s social media and website.
Students can still submit their Israeli recipes at ter.ps/tficooks through their Terpmail accounts.
“Israeli cuisine is really a mix of all cultures because Jews come from all over the world,” Binyamin said. “Jews came to Israel and kind of brought their cultures and food together.”