Dear Shaina,

Cooking is generally my go-to stress reducer, too; however, your living in Jerusalem amidst a war has me hard pressed to find any activity that puts me fully at ease. I know there is no guarantee of safety anywhere, not in Washington, DC, not in Birmingham, AL, and not in Israel…but this situation is pushing me to my edge. I know there are sirens and drones and shelters designed to protect you, and I know we have Israeli relatives who have survived more wars than I care to count. Life in Israel goes on with as much normalcy as possible despite rocket fire, tunnel attacks and ground operations.

None of this makes me sleep any easier. I worry about the extremists on both sides and their capacity to incite violence and mayhem. I worry about the collateral damage and the inevitably long and difficult path ahead. If only we could just all get along. I am afraid I am too old to be naive and idealistic, and I fear for the future of the world in which you will, G-d willing, grow old.

For now, I am staying focused on tasks around the house, thinking positive thoughts and beseeching Bubbe and all the rest of those up there watching over us to use their powers to bring about peace and safety for all. I haven’t been cooking a whole lot, but the cooking I am doing usually involves fresh veggies from the market and herbs from the garden.

I am sending you a freekeh and kale salad recipe that has become one of our summer favorites. It’s one of those salads that easily incorporates any leftover herb or vegetable you might have sitting in your refrigerator. I now have regular and Thai basil, French tarragon, dill, fennel and several kinds of mint growing in the garden, thanks to Dad’s green thumb. He is also growing tomatoes, peppers, beets, chard, arugula and kale. The tomatoes this year have been the best ever! I knew we were in full summer-garden mode when he brought home some bona fide white bread for his classic tomato sandwich. You are very familiar with that routine.

I will be sure to have some white bread and homegrown tomatoes waiting for you when you get here. These days, I am praying that the time will fly by quickly and that I will have you home safe and sound before the tomatoes are even ripe.

In the meantime, please be in touch every day. It makes it a little easier for me to sleep at night when I hear from you…so indulge me.

I am praying for peace.