Life Sketches: Cheesecake for Bibi

Stories From Around The World


Life Sketches: Cheesecake for Bibi

by Chana Canterman, - Talbiyeh

August 16, 2016

It was a Saturday night in 2012. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu was sitting shiva after his father’s death and my husband and I felt that as his neighbors—we both live in the Talbiyeh neighborhood—it would be appropriate to send our condolences.

So we penned a note and my husband went to drop it in the mail slot at the senior Netanyahu home where the Prime Minister was mourning. I got a call from my husband a little while later. “Come, Bibi wants to see you,” he whispered into the phone. I was sure he was joking and said as much. “No, really, I’m drinking tea with him, come!”

I didn’t know who could watch my children on such short notice. The youngest neighbor in our building is 78, but I called her and begged her to come over. “Bibi wants to see me, I’ll explain everything later,” I called out as I threw on a pretty sweater, applied lipstick, and raced out the door.

When I got to the residence, an officer rushed me inside. “Chabad?” he said, “You’re mishpacha, [family]. Come in.” My husband was sitting on the couch with Bibi and his wife Sarah, and I joined them there. We exchanged stories for the next 20 minutes: Bibi shared anecdotes about his father while my husband and I spoke about our work in Jerusalem.

“Do you host people for Shabbat often?” he asked. We told him we do and then we invited him for a Shabbat meal, though we understood that we couldn’t expect him to come. But then my husband praised my cheesecake and I offered to bring him one.

What’s involved in making a cheesecake for the Prime Minister? His secretary has to approve the recipe, accompany me to the market to purchase ingredients, and then follow me home for the baking process. We may not be able to have the Prime Minister for dinner, but we can bring a piece of our table to him.

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