July 21, 2014

Israel’s Elusive Peace at the Supermarket

It was just four weeks ago that I walked through the large Supersol store in the center of Jerusalem. I was impressed with the many new frozen items, particularly vegetarian imitations of meat products, the many cheeses that were being freshly cut, the array of artisan breads, and as always the many interesting dairy products, so prevalent in the legendary Israeli breakfast. The buzz in the store was clearly about the three kidnapped yeshiva boys, who were since found murdered. Less than a month later, the supermarket had cleared out its “safe room” as shoppers rushed for cover at the sound of the sirens indicating that a rocket was headed in their direction from Gaza. Thankfully, Israel’s Iron Dome had intercepted the rocket and the shoppers resumed filling their carts.

I have always looked at supermarkets as a symbol of peace, a place where people can come together for the same purpose: to enjoy good food. The only acceptable sound is the sound of the scanners or the buzz of friends meeting by chance in the aisle. For Israelis, the supermarket is a place to relieve tensions and to retreat into a world that is far from the conflict. It is a place, one Israeli told me, where you look for the extra spice, the “charif,” that challenges the taste palate.

Even as Israelis are increasingly skeptical about the prospects for peace, they do agree that they covet the peace that the supermarket aisle offers, without the sirens, of course. It is here that they can use the five senses for pure enjoyment. Shalom!