Among the few prized possessions the last remaining Jews of Yemen lugged along on their secret flight to Israel last week was a snazzy-looking tabun for baking flatbreads. This particular oven is made of metal, rather than the traditional clay, and has instructions printed in Arabic on its exterior.
Another kitchen essential they refused to part with is the special stone used by generations to mash pepper into skhug, the signature Yemeni hot sauce, already being put to good use in their new living space.
Barely a week after touching down at Ben-Gurion International Airport, the two Karny brothers, their wives and children seem quite at home here at the Ye’elim absorption center in Be’er Sheva, the capital of the Negev. On the small stove top in their kitchen, a dish of crushed tomatoes and spices is simmering away, its pungent aroma discernible from the other side of the building’s long corridor. For lack of counter space, a huge bag of mixed sweet and hot peppers, waiting to be chopped into their upcoming meals, lies smack in the center of the kitchen.
The 17 members of the Karny family, airlifted to Israel last week in a trans-continental Jewish Agency rescue operation, have just returned from an early morning trip to the Interior Ministry where they received their Israeli identification cards. Still a bit overwhelmed by events of recent days, they respond joyfully to news from a staffer that fans for their rooms have finally arrived.
“It’s even hotter here than in Yemen,” Haim Karny, 57, the elder of the two brothers, complains good-naturedly.
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