Cookbook Author Amy Stopnicki and her husband, Tom at A Taste For Life 2017

Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom! For so many mothers, cooking for their families is about much more than food. It’s about healing and hope. It’s about nurturing the body and soul. It’s about creating wonderful memories through the appreciation of good food and about offering comfort and love over the kitchen table.

The heartwarming cookbook, A Taste of Life: Bereaved Mothers Cook and Tell, highlights the recipes of 124 Israeli mothers who have lost children through acts of terror and war. These mothers came together as part of a unique OneFamily therapeutic program, to share their stories, their skills and the recipes their children used to love. A Taste of Life is a testament to the healing power of cooking and a tribute to the beautiful memories of young men and women, carried by their mothers forever.

Since their inception in October 2001, OneFamily, a leading humanitarian organization, has helped more than 12,000 families whose lives have been shattered by terror. To date, they have invested more than $40 million into their recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration into Israeli society. For more information, visit www.OneFamilyFund.ca.

Toronto cookbook author and event designer, Amy Stopnicki (see photo of Amy and Tommy Stopnicki, above), explained how she became involved:

“My husband Tommy and I became involved in OneFamily about a year and a half ago. Our very dear friend, Rabbi Mark, was killed in a terror attack in the summer of 2016, and we went to Israel for the Shiva. When we came back, we did an event to raise money for the Mark family. We found OneFamily and quickly learned about all the amazing work that they do, including getting money to these families in Israel.

We have continued our involvement with this amazing organization. I am heading to Israel over Chanukah and will be attending One Family events as well as doing a cooking demo for them.”

The fully illustrated recipes in A Taste of Life contain an interesting collection of dishes representative of Israeli home cooking. The cookbook has proved so popular that it has been translated from Hebrew into English.

You’ll find Omri’s Moroccan Khreira Soup (below), Ofir’s Meatballs in Red Sauce, Yaniv’s Oven-Baked Chicken with Potatoes, Shuli’s Cholent, Asher’s Lamb in Wine, Almonds and Raisins, Ari’s Deli Roll (below), Revital’s Kubeh, Naor’s Lasagna (Two Varieties), Alon’s Persian-Bukharan Rice, Tomer’s Strawberry Cake, Liron’s American Doughnuts, and Aviv’s Oneg Shabbat (below). Each recipe is beautifully photographed, and while the book is born out of sadness, each delicious dish is filled with love and hope.

There is a foreword by President Reuven Rivlin, and Nechama Rivlin contributed an aubergine and tomato recipe. Nechama Rivlin’s personal copy of the book has been signed by all the mothers who contributed to it. At the launch in April 2015 at the President’s residence, Nechama Rivlin said: “A Taste of Life revives the memories…it is a book full of yearning, comfort and love – love that continues, that assumes a taste and form.”

For information on how to order A Taste of Life: Bereaved Mothers Cook and Tell, visit http://onefamilyfund.ca/a-taste-of-life-cookbook.


 Makes 10 to 12 servings

 Wherever there is love, there is everything.

Roni Elmakayes, mother of Omri (z’l), shared: “Moroccan Kheira soup is usually reserved for the coldest days of winter. My mother, Omri’s grandmother, used to make this soup regularly. Omri wouldn’t compromise and let anyone else make it. When I tried to make the soup, Omri would say, “Mom, I love you, but Grandma’s soup tastes better.” So, every time he would come home from the army, regardless of whether it was winter or summer, Grandma would make a pot of soup for him. My mother was already elderly, and preparing the soup would take a few hours, but she never tired of it, and every time he came home from the army, there would be a pot of the soup he so loved waiting for him.”

 Roni continued: “In July 2006, before going into Lebanon, Omri managed to come home one last time and to eat Grandma’s soup, “the tastiest soup in the world.” This recipe is intended to commemorate you, Omni, to the world, and I hope that many will enjoy the soup that you loved so much.”

1 cup of chickpeas

1 cup of green lentils

1/4 cup of oil

3 onions, finely diced

1 head of celery with the leaves, finely chopped

5 fresh tomatoes, finely chopped

2.2 lbs (1 kg) of beef (neck or osso bucco), cut into small cubes

8 cups (4 litres) of water

1/2 cup of flour + 1 cup water

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

2 cups of parsley, chopped

2 cups of coriander, chopped

1 handful of thin egg noodles

Lemon juice to taste

Soak the chickpeas and lentils overnight.

  • Strain and rinse them in running water.
  • Remove the thin peel from the chickpeas.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot, and saute the onions and celery for 6 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and steam for another 6 minutes.
  • Add the meat, chickpeas, lentils, and water; bring to a boil.
  • Lower the flame and cook covered for about 2.5 hours.
  • Dilute the flour in 1 cup of water, and add to the soup through a fine mesh strainer.
  • Stir the soup every ten minutes.
  • Season with salt and pepper; add the parsley, coriander and noodles, and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice and cook for another 20 minutes.
  • The soup will be thick. Serve hot.


 Makes 8 servings

 Every Shabbat eve, then the aroma of this pastry spreads through the air, I know that Ari is enjoying it in the World-to-Come.

 Suzie Weiss, mother of Ari (z’l), shared: “The first course of our festive family meals was ‘sausage roll’ –which our children enjoyed from a very young age (after all, who doesn’t like sausage?). Ari would begin his Shabbat evening meal by cutting himself the biggest piece from the sausage. After he enlisted in the IDF, I would make him a roll and keep it in the freezer in case he came home suddenly, or in case it would be possible to send it to him at his base.”

 Suzie continued: “Even now, every Friday, my children wait breathlessly for me to make it, and every Friday, when the aroma of the sausage fills the house, I hope that the scent that ari so loved goes up to him in Heaven. Ari used to quip that he hopes that in the next world, this is what he would get as his reward for all the acts of kindness he did in his life. I hope that he actually does get the equivalent to sausage in his upper world, or at least the aromas that rise up from his home, soaked as they are in our longing for him.”

1 strip of filo dough, 10 x 16 inches (25 x 40 cm) (or use puff pastry, thawed)

2–3 tablespoons of mustard

10.5 oz (300 grams) of varied sausages, sliced and cut into cubes (any kind of cured meat sausage works)

1 can of sauerkraut, drained of excess liquid

1 egg, beaten

1 baking pan lined with baking paper (parchment)

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).

  • Roll out the dough until it is thin. Spread the mustard over the entire surface of the dough, and spread out the sausage cubes over the dough. If you use various kinds of sausage, layer them. Spread the sauerkraut on top of the sausage cubes.
  • Roll up the dough (with its layers inside), so that you have a large roll, and place it in the baking pan.
  • Brush the top with the egg, and bake for 40 minutes, or until it becomes golden.
  • Slice and serve.


 Makes 8 servings

 My little prince always quoted The Little Prince: “There is no place that is too far.”

 Edna Hakani, mother of Aviv (z’l), shared: “Behind the house where we lived on the kibbutz, there was a large grove of pecan trees. Every year, on some winter weekend, we would gather all the pecans that had fallen to the wet ground, and we would keep them for use all year. Then we would go to see the milking in the barn and get fresh leftover milk that our grandmothers would use to make butter and cream for Shabbat.”

 Edna continued: “In those days, almost 30 years ago, there weren’t many things available on the kibbutz. That is where this recipe was born – simple, made from what there was. When Aviv was 4 years old, we made it together for the first time. The combination of butter with cream and nuts (and also noodles) can only lead to good things. But Aviv grew up and we moved to the city. Years later, he suddenly asked me, “Mom, can we make the ‘Oneg Shabbat’ (Shabbat delight) that we used to make on the kibbutz?” That’s how this dessert got its name.

2.5 oz (70 grams of butter

8.8 oz (250 grams of thin noodles

1/2 cup of walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup of milk

1 container of sweet cream

1 package of vanilla or chocolate pudding

Maple syrup

Chocolate syrup

Melt 1.75 oz (50 grams) of butter in a large pan and saute the noodles until golden. Set aside.

  • In the same pan, melt the rest of the butter, add the nuts, and lightly saute.
  • Add the milk, cream, and pudding together in a mixing bowl, and mix for 2–3 minutes until smooth.


  • Arrange a nice layer of noodles on the bottom of a rectangular pan.
  • Pour the pudding/cream mixture over it.
  • Spread 3/4 of the nuts over the cream, cover with another layer of noodles, then spread the rest of the nuts on top.
  • Garnish with a generous amount of maple syrup and chocolate syrup. Refrigerate.
  • This dessert can also be made in dessert cups, garnished with a strawberry and a mint leaf.

 Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is the author of 12 cookbooks and divides her time between work as a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer and cookbook editor. Norene lives in Toronto and her motto is, “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website www.gourmania.com or email her at [email protected]

Norene Gilletz is the leading author of kosher cookbooks in Canada. She is a food writer, food manufacturer, consultant, spokesperson, cooking instructor, lecturer, cookbook editor and now a podcaster. Norene lives in Toronto and her motto is “Food that’s good for you should taste good!” For more information, visit her website at gourmania.com..