From Hala’s Kitchen
Easter Recipes Made New Each Season
Just a week before Easter, Hala Jahshan is putting together a baking list.
She’s made these particular Easter cookies – called k’ak, or, crown of thorns — since she was a girl, when her family was displaced from Palestine to Lebanon, then again within Lebanon during the war.
It isn’t only the taste that is sweet here. The memories are too.
Her mother’s kitchen would be packed with women neighbors, who all came together to knead the dough, add a pinch of sugar to the crushed dates, while kids from the entire apartment building were packing in to watch and to hope for bits of batter.
Although her own son is 36 now, she is sure he’ll find a reason to come by this week when she has started baking.
The ringed cookies are said to symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Jesus as he was tortured and crucified. It isn’t odd that the treat is sticky and sweet, commemorating a sacrificial act, according to Jerusalem’s Christians. Remembering the suffering is a very real part of the coming holy days.
But the final outcome, after all, is joy.
“Joy, yes, it is joy for us,” Hala says, talking through Skype into a computer monitor from the Melia Shop in Jerusalem’s Old City, right inside the New Gate. She is there practically daily, helping to sort, categorize and mend, if needed, the pieces of embroidery brought to the shop by women artisans across the West Bank.
She listens, too, to stories of worry and loss, and to stories of hope, where women are finding ways to support their families and to support each other.
But this week, she’ll be listening within.
After nearly 40 days of no cheese, no milk, no meat, she’s tending to her Lenten prayers – and readying for the Easter meal.
Raised by Christian parents, Hala says that she always followed Orthodox teachings.
But it was her husband, who, after the marriage that brought her back to Jerusalem, really taught her the Bible and helped her to experience Jesus as not just a message in the mass.
“Something in your heart changes,” she says. “It is just a feeling that is within you.”
It tickles her to share the recipe she’s carried from Palestine to Lebanon and back – and is now sharing online with readers she hasn’t yet met.
(You can find her complete recipe here!)
Pal Craftaid is a volunteer, non-profit ministry of compassion, hope, and healing for Palestinians.
Pal Craftaid supports families, schools, elderly groups and community cooperatives in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank.