Chefs from 12 leading restaurants in Jerusalem have each created a special dish to express their personal concept of freedom, as part of an initiative by Ohr Torah Stone’s Yad La’isha Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline, to raise awareness of agunot.
Participants in the center’s “Taste of Freedom” restaurant week, which coincides with yeshiva break from Jan. 19 to 25, range from shuk eateries to such high-end establishments as Hamotzi, Eucalyptus, Angelica, and Memphis. The freedom dishes will be specially priced to encourage patrons’ participation.
“Yad La’isha has freed approximately 1,000 women. However, there are many women who still need our help and are not even aware that we offer a helping hand to any woman who is faced with a recalcitrant husband, providing legal counsel and representation as well as emotional support,” said center director Pnina Omer. “In merit of events like ‘A Taste of Freedom,’ the public is exposed to the distress of these women and presented with the opportunity to refer women in such situations to us for help.”
“We never lose sight of this goal — giving the gift of freedom to women chained in the bonds of marriage,” said Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander, Ohr Torah Stone rosh hayeshiva.
Participating restaurants and their special “freedom dishes” include:
Rachel Ba-Sdera. Arroz a la cubana
A Spanish rice dish, perfect for a winter’s day, with tomato sauce, tuna and bottarga, fried egg, topped with a banana-filled brik and a touch of spicy salad dressing. This was a special dish Chef Rachel ben Elul’s mother would prepare for her children, but only during school holidays. It contains proteins, carbs and a dessert, all in one. It reminds Chef Rachel of the wondrous days of vacation.
Rahmo. Madias, stuffed zucchini
Halved, boat-shaped zucchini stuffed with meat, cooked in a celery, coriander and potato/artichoke stew with a lemon-chili sauce. Served on white rice. The word “freedom” takes Chef Liron Keren directly to the sea. When one looks out at the horizon, where sea touches heaven, one can make out little boats sailing to far-off places to discover new sights, new places and a new life.
Sun-shaped mushroom tortellini, cauliflower clouds, and a rainbow of pureed vegetables and edible spices. Chef Tal Gazit feels rain is a type of freedom and says this is a dish for after the rain — there are mushrooms, a colorful rainbow; the stage is set for growth and flourishing.
Ishtabach. Caribbean Delight
Personal, gift-wrapped banana cake with rum, honey and cinnamon. Chef Alon Sela says the word “freedom” instantly transports him to exotic destinations, and that is why he chose to base this dish on bananas, rum and cinnamon, all originating in Sri Lanka. This exotic dish is wrapped like a gift, giving the sense of a true vacation.
Hamotzi. Duckling Chebakia
Moroccan freedom pastry topped with duckling strips cooked in an orange-based sauce. Chef Avi Levy tells us the Chebakia pastry is a traditional Moroccan pastry eaten on festivals and holidays, and that duck meat requires a lot of “cooking space” — it is never fully wrapped in dough, and always served open and free.
Avihail Café. Cauliflower Shawarma
Cauliflower florets and onions stir-fried with a mix of exotic spices and olive oil, served on a hand-made focaccia decorated with tahini and parsley. Chef Shlomi Daniel chose this dish because it’s considered street-food. He is confined to his kitchen all day long; his idea of going out to eat is walking about freely on the streets and eating street-food; that is how the idea of shawarma came about. In keeping with the café’s dietary status, it is a vegetarian dish.
Café Michael. Free Evening
Thickened chocolate cream, fried challah cubes, fresh strawberries in white butter and champagne sauce. Chef Alon Bet Yosef says that freedom for him is simply an evening at home and not at work, when he can relax and wind down with an alcoholic beverage and a sweet dessert. The dish combines both elements — sweet and alcoholic — and, in his view, fried challah cubes with fresh strawberries is a great appetizer for a free evening of self-indulgence. All one needs is the winning combination of alcohol and chocolate.
Café Ella. Pampering Clouds
Corrupting pavlova with patisserie cream and whipped cream with red berry coulis. Chef Avichai Van Levin believes true freedom is the liberty to pamper yourself and dare to indulge in a real dessert.
Memphis. A chakra-opening hamburger
Beef burger with fried egg topped with chili pepper jelly. Chef Ori Melamed claims that chili pepper jelly opens your chakras and sets you free; simple as that! Furthermore, Memphis only buys free range beef and eggs.
The Eucalyptus. Leaves of Freedom
Lettuce hearts filled with Babylonian haroset (date honey and nuts). The concept of freedom immediately reminds Chef Moshe Basson of the exodus from slavery to freedom. He created an Iraqi dish served in his own home during the Holiday of Freedom – Passover.
Denay Café. Thai curry
Cooked dish of curry, coconut milk, tofu/Barramundi fillet, broccoli, okra, string beans, pumpkin, herbs and chili. Served with white rice. Chef Idan Cohen says that the word “freedom” reminds him of his vacation in Thailand and the wonderful sights he saw, the beautiful beaches and the heavenly smells of Thai cuisine.
Nocturno. Pomegranate Garden
A light fruit and vegetable salad, with long-sliced root vegetables, baby leaves, persimmons, apples, pears, caramelized pecan nuts, topped with a generous heap of scarlet-colored pomegranate seeds, sprinkled in abundance. The verse from Song of Songs, “Thy shoots are a garden of pomegranate,” inspired this dish. Chefs Ariel Even Tzur and Yael Abramson believe it symbolizes the exodus from an arid desert to a lush, spacious, blossoming, vibrant and thriving garden.
The 20-year-old Yad La’isha, part of the Ohr Torah Stone network, is the world’s largest organization working on behalf of agunot. Every year, it represents some 150 women in Israel’s rabbinical courts, also providing private investigators, social workers and personal coaches who provide emotional support until, and even after, a divorce is obtained.
Ohr Torah Stone, founded in 1983, is a network of 27 Modern Orthodox institutions.