A Long Way from the Wonder Pot

 Artzeinu, KJ's weekly publication with Israel news updates, published a special 75th Anniversary Issue in which several writers were asked to answer the question, "Where will Israel be 75 years from now?" Below is the answer I contributed

I have a childhood memory of flipping through my mother’s old Israeli recipes and noticing a recipe for a Bundt cake. However, instead of baking it in an oven, this cake was to be cooked on a stovetop, in a Sir Peleh – a  "Wonder Pot."

Shortly after the founding of the State of Israel, her Jewish population doubled. The government established the tsena period, a period of austerity, to ensure that everyone had the resources they needed. Citizens received rations of flour, eggs, oil, and other ingredients, and there were limits on the purchase of furniture and household objects. Most people did not own an oven and many did not even own a stove; cooking took place on a portable gas burner known as p’tiliya.

But without an oven, what would they eat for dessert at family Shabbat and holiday meals? What would they snack on with their coffee? How could life go on without that sweet spongy staple of every Semitic supper: cake? Naturally, the innovative Israeli mind came up with the “Wonder Pot,” an aluminum bundt-shaped pot designed to bake a cake on a stovetop or on a portable burner. It works by diffusing the direct heat of the stovetop through air spaces built into the pot’s system. Faced with living without the most basic kitchen appliance, an oven, our Israeli brothers and sisters still found a way to bake cake.

Israelis and Israel have always managed to pull through, achieve, and succeed beyond all expectations, even when (maybe, especially when) confronted by challenges. Israelis never accept the hand that is dealt to them and give up. Any challenge, military, medical, political, economic, or culinary is met with a solution. This is a people that would not stand for life without cake, so they invented a way to make it happen.

Where will Israel be 75 years from now? I can’t really say, but I do know that whatever challenges Israel faces, in any decade, Israelis will persevere, innovate, and prevail. With an attitude like that widespread among her people, Israel is bound to thrive. And eat cake.

Originally published in Artzeinu, here


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