I met a French man on one of my walks in the mountains. Sunset on the background, no one else around.

We passed each other on our way to the top. From it we could see both sides of the cliff. To the north, in the shadow of the cliff, a small village of white houses was tucked away. To the south, above the escarpment, an infinite ocean of green, full of trees and cottages dotting the land, present and distant from each other. Just like our stories.

It took a short time before his deep friendship with an Iranian-Jewish man met my Iranian-Armenian heritage and my present brimming with Judaism.

For hours, among rocks and caves, he told me how his friend managed to bring the best of himself to France and became a respectable, admired and collaborative person. Creating from Judaism a platform to give voice to his values, and in turn becoming a bridge by marrying a non-Jewish woman.

As he spoke, I was overwhelmed by memories of Israel, my encounters with Orthodox Jews, our conversations about relationships, the importance of marrying another Jew, or the testimony of the French-Indian girl, daughter of a Jewish father, whom I met one morning in the Tzfat library.

To these memories was added my father’s voice. Once, I asked him to send good wishes in Parsi to a great Israeli friend of mine. Shans, good luck, I can still hear him as I write.

For my friend, it was a really special gift, for my father the first time in twenty years that he spoke the language again. At the beginning he even struggled remembering how to write it: “I can’t have forgotten it, I can’t have forgotten it”, he muttered. I looked at him, knowing it was much more than just a few words. It was about breaking his promise to never return to Iran again, in any possible way. He just added: “that’s how it was written, don’t you see your father never forgets anything” – while winking.

“I know” – I answered to myself.

That’s the way stories with the aftertaste of Persian lime tea were unexpectedly reawakened.

Shai Hamid

Dried Lime Tea

This is an Iraqi and Persian drink with a delightful tart musty flavour. You can buy dried limes in Oriental and Indian stores or you can make them yourself by letting the limes dry out on a radiator, until they are brown and sound hollow.

For 4: break 2 dried limes open with a hammer. Put them in a pan with 1 liter (1 ยผ pints) of boiling water and simmer for 30 seconds. To serve, strain, and add sugar to taste.

Recipe Source: The book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden

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