Monday, December 28, 2015

Versunkener Apfelkuchen

Late last night, after a long day of being allergic to Israeli cigarette smoke, and trying to write despite the noise of a nearby highway, and feeling chilled by the coldness of an ex, and freaked out by yet another glimpse of the irrational hatred and plentiful armaments in the neighboring twenty-two Arab countries, and alone in my Tel Aviv kitchen, I decided to try to make my grandmother’s German Apple Cake.

I didn’t know the name of her cake. I wasn’t thinking things through. I do that sometimes. Her cake contained walnuts and raisins, and I had a printout before me, a recipe, that didn’t ask for walnuts or raisins. I didn’t have the right kind of pan. The recipe was in familiar Fahrenheit instead of strange new Celsius. But I did my best to translate the recipe and produce Versunkener Apfelkuchen. The finished result was a love affair between butter and sugar, and it sank low in the middle. I checked online, and discovered that all was as it should be. Turns out that versunkener is German for "sunken."

This was yet another walk in the dark. Trying to hear something unsaid. Looking for a comfort that doesn’t come from memorizing dogma or obeying outside commands. I’m trying to heal. I’m trying to make sense of insane human history. I'm trying to live from my soul.

Day by day I continue to live here, hoping for peace on earth and surrounded by dreary concrete architecture like the physical manifestation of some socialist manifesto. I drink the local coffee. I write my new novel.

Twice a week I learn Hebrew in a school called an “Ulpan,” along with Russians with skin white as polar caps, Ethiopians with the dignity of Solomon, Coptic Christians, refugees from Sudan, and others from Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Britain, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon and places beyond. Most haven't heard of Berkeley, California. Some haven't heard of New York. People talk to each other in French and Italian and Arabic. There are young people built like slender orchids reaching up through jungle foliage, and seniors who quiver like dried thistle in wind.The United Nations doesn’t even come close to the truly international reality here.

Counter-intuitive, perhaps, but I’m lonely. I speak Hebrew like a two year old. It's hard to make a living. My grandmother never gave me that recipe because it reminded her of escaping the Holocaust. It's amazing she even made the cake once. And I don’t have a date for New Year’s Eve. Whatever. I’m alive. And someday I’ll figure out how to bake the right cake. That’s enough.

Yael Shahar If you feel lonely, feel free to give me a buzz. You're always welcome to stay with us for Shabbat, or enjoy a nice afternoon jeeping around the hills.
Chaya Rosen Sari...warm regards...hugs...
Anisoara Kirschner Warm regards; when I lived in Israel,New year was called Sylvester...and most didn't really celebrate except for former Americans/ Canadians.
Keep us posted;stay couregeous!

Herb Glatter 1. You are a gifted writer 2. "sunken" cake looks good to me 3. no advice from me just this
Vicki Garcia Sari, hang in there! Wishing you enlightenment, comfort, some FUN and joy in the new year! (and congrats on the cake--bet it tastes delicious!).
Dinah Kutner Loved reading this. You are inspiring!
Natalie Moore I'm sorry that you're feeling lonely. I'm sending you a cyber hug. Much love!
Wendell H Davis Ice cream fixes lots of things.
Sari Friedman
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Laura Melia Kelly Miss you and love you
Howard M Percival Love reading your posts. Always informative & entertaining. I'd totally forgotten from my early days in Israel that New Year's was called Sylvester. Hope you & Yael hook up. Would be great to know that 2 online friends in a foreign country are there for each other. Happy New Year.
Elaine Masher Myers sending you hugs
Hans York Is this an apful strudel? My grandmother made them. Wonderful.
Anna Kershaw-Bar I made Aliyah alone many years ago and went through Ulpan with huge Russian Aliyah in 1990 and kept going for 2yrs. Then left. Do not give in and be strong, it will be worth it.
Irving Berkowitz Sending you well wishes, hugs and hope for a new year filled with peace, love, happiness and "a sach nachas."
Marion Weitzman Sari. Hugs and kudos to your courageous move to Israel. My daughter Sarina made the same move 5 years ago. You will be fine๐Ÿ˜Š
Renee Bacher Hugs! Hang in there. You are on a great adventure. Sunshine is just around the bend. I promise. Look for it.
Bobbi Zahra Beautifully said, Sari. I'm presently in Quรฉbec and feel very well the frustration of trying to live in a place where the language is not my own. It's been a while since I've really felt a bit stupid! (9th-grade math...) And on NYE, I will be a singleton amongst couples as well. smile emoticon I shall raise a glass to you!
Sari Friedman And a toast to you as well!
Sari Friedman
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Jerome S Kaufman Damn good cure from reality. I am jealous on the cake.
Renee Bacher Sari Friedman, this gave me a flashback to a time when I was living alone in France and speaking French like a 2-year-old. Ultimately, I progressed to speaking it like a 3-year-old. It was truly the loneliest time of my life. But also, I was 30 years y...See More
Ron Rosenbaum Beautiful. It's the right cake.
Anne Maxson Hope it tasted as good as it looked,
Shirley Dratler Hepner I have a recipe that I make a lot. I also have my girlfriend's apple cake recipe. also why is your ulpon only 2 days a week. Our senior ulpon was 3 days a week. We are now finished, but we have some good friends - French and Russian - from our class.
Sari Friedman I couldn't keep up with the more frequent meetings, I'm still trying to write and work with the rest of my day. It was too much for me.
Sari Friedman
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Shirley Dratler Hepner Do you want my recipes?
Shirley Dratler Hepner One Bowl Apple Cake
2 eggs
1 ¾ c sugar...See More

Sari Friedman
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Jonatan Zahav Sari, NYE is not a big deal here. Just find a couple or three similar souls and enjoy each others company. It is lonely to be alone, but hey, at least you don't get into any arguments. Patience and love are the only weapons we have.
Julie Gray Jonatan is right, Sari Friedman - New Years is not really a thing here. As for everything else, I know. It's really hard at first. I think there's a huge let down from our expectations and the initial amazingness of this place (which is still amazing, ...See More
Sari Friedman
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Bruce K Main Your cake looks delicious. My family has a similar recipe. Im sorry your feeling lonely. I would too. I take hebrew here in Washington DC, feel about like a 2nd or 3rd grader at this time, but wanted a head start for my trip to Israel in the spring. Im pretty good with foregin languages and still its tough. Hang in there, your writing is always so beautiful and appreciated.
Bob Koppel With grandma's apple cake and your good sense, you''ll be fine. I just feel it. Peace and well chosen words...
Michele Goldsmith Lovely status. Lovely cake. Happy New Year sister xx
Liz Fleiss I love sunken Apple cakes. Wanna be my date for New Year's Eve?
Mark Spires Sunken cakes usually have Sunken treasure. And this looks like treasure enough!
Jean Hartley Sidden She would be proud - for the cake and for the thoughtful, reflective words it inspired.
Peter Temes Lovely post. Warmest thoughts.
Michael Rubin Well I'll take you out for Turkish coffee after my aliyah in June. Coffee cures everything smile emoticon
Eric Goldstein Well, happy Silvester Sari! I lived in Tel Aviv after college, from 1992 through 1996, until a few months after Rabin was murdered. It was tough to make a living then, and Tel Aviv I guess is a lot more expensive now than it was back in my day. Stil...See More
Muriel Tebid Go to my friend's bar Tomas across from the Dan Tel Aviv on Hayakorn and meet the nicest people.
Muriel Tebid Yes. The owner is Tomer Harbon and tell him you know me.
Sari Friedman
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Deborah Birman Shlider Love this Sari ,and it suddenly reminds me of a chocolate cake I baked here -without powders or a boxed mix-four hundred years ago ,in another life time , when we had just moved to Rosh Hanikra .That cake sank too ,and I blamed it on the oven ,but the ...See More
Ben Cowan This time of year is made for loneliness. The Pagans dealt with it by creating Solstice. The Christians made Christmas. Jews light Chanukah candles and the best news is - January is here! Sunlight returns. Ex's are ex's for a reason... so bake, read, take up emoticon
Toba Abramczyk looks yummy -
Anika Cooper It looks wonderful! I'm glad you are alive. I'm also alone for NYE. Be my date and know you are loved and cherished even if from NYC. Hugs
Ben Cowan Alone here, too. With cat. I dislike NY eve and prefer to stay at home. I do not get drunk, rarely drink and find no merriment in it. I am an introvert.
Sari Friedman
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Jennifer Morgenstern Hi Sari Friedman how's it going ? I can meet you in Tel Aviv or you can come to Beit Shemesh and visit me!!! HAPPY NEW YEAR! I've been in Israel 20 years and my Hebrew progressed to 3rd grade maybe!!! It's my goal this year to finally get better at it !!!
Brenda Ashpitz I'm sorry you are feeling lonely ☮
Ellen Rosner Feig I think you are incredibly brave - it is something I would consider doing but also fear the loneliness (not that it is better here)
Lisa Boshnack Looks delicious. Enjoy it.
Rodney Owens I love your writing style Sari..thought provoking,poignant and much I want to visit Israel..obviously lotsa wonderful people there..adversity does bring out the best..after the Holocaust and Arab wars..the Jews have learned to kick arse..wonder why?!
Susan Schild Weiss I'm sorry you are feeling lonely. I feel lonely and I live with my family. Somehow I think that's worse. I have a friend (from NY) who is also single and lives in Tel Aviv. Not sure where you live but if you want to meet, let me know. I love the way your write and cannot wait to read your book!
Glen Greenberg Love your Posts !! I do !
K'tzia Vage New Years Eve is no big deal. I also prefer to stay home. Too many crazies are out driving !
I loved your post & can totally relate. You're in the right place. It will get better.

Howard Rotberg May the 200 likes and 77 shares regarding your excellent short essay help lift the curse of loneliness from your are not alone. You are part of one of the greatest movements in modern history notwithstanding all the moral midgets lin...See More
Susan Miles Love your musings, but sorry you're feeling blue. Don't know why your post was removed from the COHCCS. Happy to still be able to get your post. Sounds like new possibilities for meetings from commenters above...
Barbara Hilton Kiehn Hang in there Sari ~~ hope the cake was sweet and you find the peace that you are looking for.
Stephany Burd Don't feel bad i also have no date for NY you are not alone be good to yourself ...cheers from Sydney!
Jennifer Morgenstern I reread your post when you coming to visit or should I come to you???
Tamar Brown Elkeles Looks amazingly tastey!!!
Fernande Fischer Heck Crumcious & your writing is mesmerizing! Have a splendid New Year!
Sonia Blue Angel girl......awhhhhh I'm reading your post wishing I was nearby to bake with you and Commiserate....2016 will be THE YEAR and All good things will come your way. Mazel Tov on your sunken apple cake....its METZSUYAN ๐ŸŽ‚

I will write a longer letter after New Years when I can focus:) ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•

Sandra Tyler You are one strong woman.
Glen Greenberg Nice ! Keep writing ! May Peace in 2016 be closer
Deborah Birman Shlider I have lived here forever and I can't wait for your next post .. for your writing to lift me above the mundane and the rest
Simon Hammelburg Wow, you write well. Provide me with a mail address and I'll send you something to read that you may like...
Drew Chatterton I love your writing - you made me reminisce about my own ulpan experiences . I was there with my then partner and we lived on a kibbutz - learning hebrew half a day and working in the fields for the other half . Few kibbutz members or stud...See More
Polly Storozum I have a wonderful friend in Israel , Aya levy ... You should befriend her ... Say hello to Lonnie from me , I think his parents are there now ..
Leonard E. Mandel You paint a picture with your descriptions.
Helรจne Eisenberg When speaking like a two year old is too much, find the English language bookstores. My Hebrew was pretty good when I lived there in the early 70s but it was still fine to hear good English. The books are a delight and you're likely to make a friend or two,
Natania Etienne My grand mother was an artist in baking i watched her I can make it I am healing and love the multitude around me and everyday do a bit more cooking the one long lost when i decided to die many years ago I will certainly bake again.....
Yaffa Ru'ahh · Friends with Yaw Anane and 1 other
Loved your writing style & your cake looks yummy
Michelle Blair Why don't you send this lovely piece -- a story in itself -- to The Forward? Keep writing this kind of work.
Sari Friedman Thanks, that's a great idea heart emoticon
Sari Friedman
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John Rocha Sari Friedman you have found your purpose in this life! I appreciate your words. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ
UnlikeReply1May 1 at 11:39pm
Renee Bacher I love this. You are so brave and such a good writer and the cake looks delicious and I want the recipe! Are you doing any better since this post in December, I hope?
UnlikeReply1May 1 at 11:55pm
Sari Friedman Much better, Renee Bacher, thanks heart emoticon
LikeReply1May 3 at 12:42pm
Sari Friedman
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Natalie Moore I love reading your poignant descriptions. I hope that you're well. Sending you a big hug!
UnlikeReply2May 2 at 5:04am
Hans York SK the ex-,keep baking & writing.
UnlikeReply2May 3 at 3:00am
Sandra Tyler It hurts to hear how lonely you are. And still hurting. But there are clearly a lot of people here on Facebook able to leap the cyber divide to comfort and be with you.
LikeReply1May 3 at 3:45pm
Anita Foster Beautiful. ...thank you