Shoham wears a golden bangle on her wrist, just like her Nana Aziza. Their bangles jingle when they cook, and glitter in the sun. When Shoham and her family must leave Iraq, they are allowed to take only one suitcase each. They may take no jewelry. Shoham has the important job of carrying Nana’s homemade pita bread, which Nana says they will eat when they get to Israel. But when they finally arrive and it is time to eat, Shoham bites into something hard inside the pita bread.
It’s the annual Shabbat Cholent Competition in Sydney Australia which Amira enters with her nana, cooking up something different with “strange spices that smell like other lands”. But everyone says, “This is not a cholent!”, and Amira begins to doubt whether entering “different” was such a good idea. With her nana’s gentle, rooting encouragement Amira stays brave to the judging end, and teaches the cholent eating crowd about her traditional Iraqi Jewish Shabbat dish, called t’bit.
Forthcoming with Kar-Ben Publishing, Spring 2024