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“It means a lot for us. Life can change in a moment and we went through many different things, many different challenges,” says Wadi. “But opportunities often arise from unexpected events and surprises.”
The flavours of Aleppo are legendary, and her mother gives classic dishes her own special touch: Adding orange blossom water to her ma’amoul cookies with dates and pistachios, one of the three recipes Wadi shares in the book.
At first, Syrian ingredients were hard to come by in Thunder Bay, but now Wadi is able to order everything she needs. But part of adapting to their new home has been incorporating new influences and ideas, which Wadi sees as a strength.
Her mother is an inventive cook, she says, and has fun creating new menu items such as pumpkin-shaped breads filled with Nutella, cheese-stuffed spring rolls and burger pie, which contains all of the usual burger toppings in a scratch-made pastry pocket.
“The message is that no one should give up. Everyone will get their chance in life to prove themselves. And even with us, starting from the war and losing everything, and leaving our home, all these things help us to grow as people,” says Wadi. “Being more open to new cultures, new traditions … and learning to adapt has really increased our resiliency.”
Liba Magarschak Augenfeld’s story of resilience is told by her daughter, Rivka. On the day of Liba’s high school graduation in 1942, the German army occupied her hometown of Vilna (then part of Poland; the city is now the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius). An only child, her parents and grandparents were killed in the bombing. At 20, she joined the United Partisans Organization, a Jewish resistance group established in the Vilna ghetto to fight against the Nazis.