Arrivals: ‘The feeder’


Elisheva Levy (photo credit: Courtesy)
Elisheva Levy
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Elisheva Levy discovered the novels of Amos Oz when she was a teenager in Manchester, England. She recalls hiding her copy of My Michael because secular Israeli literature wasn’t strictly kosher in her circles.
“I always had this streak in me of wanting to do something out of the box. And I always had a special feeling for Israel, even though I went to anti-Zionist schools,” she explains. “It was something that pulled me and energized me: the thought of the soldiers, the state, the people.”
After high school, she went to the Gateshead seminary for girls for a year, then took a year of college courses in computing. But she dreamed of being a nurse – in Israel.
And so, on May 14, 1987, over the objections of her parents, she went off to Jerusalem to work at Shaare Zedek Medical Center as a National Service volunteer. She didn’t speak more than rudimentary Hebrew.
“I was introduced to Anna Deutsch, another girl from England, who is my friend to this day,” she says. (Anna’s mum, Gloria, writes for The Jerusalem Post.) “The Deutsch family kind of adopted me during my first years in Israel.”
Fortunately, Levy has a knack for languages and was speaking fluent Hebrew within six months. She found an informal “tutor” in Eli Aviv, the young man in charge of security at her Shaare Zedek dorm.
“One day he was making his rounds and he came upon me on the phone struggling to understand Hebrew, and he offered to help me,” Levy recalls.
They got married on August 24, 1989. During their 20 years together, they spoke only Hebrew to each other and to their three children.
Levy began nursing school at Shaare Zedek but didn’t complete the course. Instead, she and her husband embarked on several years of living abroad. He worked as head of security at the Israeli embassies in Mumbai, Miami and Brussels.
“We spent almost three years in each country, and came back in 2005,” says Levy, who also speaks French.
By that time, her parents had come to terms with her decision to live in Israel.
“At the end of the day, everyone has to live their own life,” she says. “This is where I feel at home; I never felt at home anywhere else.”
She hasn’t been back to England for two years, although her parents and one of her sisters still live there. Her brother moved to Israel 20 years ago, another sister made aliyah 10 years ago, and a third sister lives in Gibraltar.
After her divorce, Levy took an apartment in Givat Massuah (Beacon Hill), a quiet neighborhood on the southwest outskirts of Jerusalem near the Biblical Zoo.
“My ex and his family were living here, and it was nice for my kids to be close to them,” she explains. “It’s quiet and green, close to everything, and has a nice mix of people. I just love being here.”
There aren’t many English-speakers in Givat Massuah, but Levy feels fully Israeli. “I’m on all these English-speaking groups on Facebook, and they always talk about what they miss from abroad. I don’t agree. There is nothing abroad that you cannot get here.”
Her son Ariel, 28, who will soon study to be a nurse, and his wife, Or, have a young son and newborn daughter. Her daughter, Adi, is a 23-year-old university student. The baby of the family, Ophir, is a 20-year-old paratrooper. This, of course, makes for some sleepless nights for his mother, but it’s all part of the Israeli experience, she says.
UNTIL NOVEMBER 2019, Levy was working as a full-time personal assistant to Prof. Alice Shalvi, a London native now in her nineties, who promoted women’s rights and progressive Jewish education for girls in Israel.
“When that ended, I thought, all right, this is the time to take a plunge and do what I always dreamed of doing,” says Levy. “I had taken a baking course at Galia’s in Talpiot in 2018, and a few online courses, and started a small business in the food and baking industry.”
She works under the umbrella of Yummi, a website offering customers homemade food from dozens of amateur chefs across Israel.
“It’s run by a woman who worked in hi-tech and hates cooking. She opened this business to give people like herself the option of ordering home-cooked food instead of fast food,” Levy explains.
The website is in Hebrew, but her entry includes a sentence in English assuring customers that she is happy to help Anglos in their native language.
Levy offers a repertoire of 65-odd gourmet meat, dairy and parve dishes in a range of culinary styles covering every course, from challa and kubbeh soup to silan-mustard chicken to vegan stuffed artichokes, four-cheese lasagna and lemon meringue pie.
“My parents are Moroccan, so I have that influence, and the pie is, of course, the British influence,” she says.
“A lovely project in Yummi is an option to donate increments of NIS 50 to Latet for food for Holocaust survivors. I cook for one of them here in Jerusalem.”
She runs a baking club on a volunteer basis at Zichron Menachem, an organization supporting seriously ill children and their siblings. In addition, she likes to deliver boxes brimming with home-baked cakes to her son and his fellow soldiers.
“My sisters call me ‘the feeder,’” Levy says with a smile. “My real dream is to buy a food truck with my daughter and drive from base to base, spoiling soldiers with desserts for free, on us.”
Although baking and cooking are her main sources of both income and pleasure, Levy makes time for exercising and relaxing outdoors. “I do a daily walk, and I also get to the beach whenever I can because that is where I connect to myself best,” she says.
In sum, Levy has found fulfillment and contentment in Israel. “I do what I love, and I love what I do. I’m very blessed.”