Ashkenazi curses and cures

Being an Ashkenazi Jew pretty much guarantees that I have lost the genetic lottery. Heart Disease? Sure. Diabetes? Yes. Anxiety? Obviously. Cancer? Unfortunately so. High blood pressure? You bet. Pretty much everything runs in my family (sorry to my future kids) which is really great when you throw in some gastro issues as a bonus.

For some reason, it seems that a large percentage of other white people (of Eastern European origin) in this country seem to experience some form of stomach issue. Ranging from gluten intolerance to lactose intolerance to IBS to general sensitivity, it’s amazing that we allow ourselves to be fed so much at a Shabbat dinner. I don’t know happened, genetically, all those generations ago that got us to this point but here we are – living with daily stomach disruptions.

When I first moved to Israel, even before I made aliyah, I remember dealing with these issues. At first I was told “you’re just adjusting to Israel,” then I was told “you’re just stressed out because you made aliyah,” then I was told “you’re anxious because you moved to Tel Aviv,” then I was told “you may have a gluten intolerance. Oh, wait, maybe not” and then I stopped listening to people.

Unfortunately, a non-diagnosis is the best it’s gonna get and as much as I like my doctor, she is always booked up months in advance. So. In between harassing her secretary into getting me an earlier appointment and complaining to my mom, I do what any self-respecting Ashkenazi would do: make some Jewish penicillin. The cure-all, matzah ball soup is truly a miracle. Granted, as a vegetarian, I don’t make it with chicken bones which really do enhance the flavor, but those little dumplings of deliciousness find a way to “warm the cockles of my heart,” as my grandpa used to say. And while I’m at it, let the record state that my mom makes the best matzah ball soup. Yes, even better than your mom makes it – deal with it.




Homesick means that you are sick for your home, that you miss it. But (I think) that it can also refer to that feeling you get when you are ill. You know the one – where you just wish you could revert back to being a kid again…lying in bed, eating your mom’s matzah ball soup and binge watching movies.

It’s not an I’m-on-the-other-side-of-the-world thing, so much as it’s an I-want-my-mommy-to-take-care-of-me thing. Even just a hug from your parents seems to melt away the icky feelings of whatever you are suffering from.

Alas, part of the joys of being a grown up means that you must take care of yourself. I guess sitting on your own couch in your pajamas and eating restaurant bought soup (brought over by a good friend) is the next best option. And that’s not so bad.