The Corona Chronicles – We’re Not Yet Out Of The Woods

I hate it when people say “I told you so” but – I told you so.

A month since the government gradually started to ease the lockdown restrictions here in Israel, and a fortnight after they rashly allowed schools to reopen, the number of new COVID – 19 cases is climbing again. At the weekend, the graph spiked at 115 new cases in a single day. Yesterday, there were 98 new cases. Most of the new cases are centred on schools in the Jerusalem area (but not only) – and one school in particular. And this is attributable to the disdain shown by staff and students for the conditions set down by the government for the reopening of schools.

But the truth must be told. Since the relaxation of restrictions, there has been a widespread slackening off of “Corona Discipline”, not only amongst the general public, but also by ministers and parliamentarians. At the extended Shavuot weekend, the media were full of news items about how Israelis were celebrating “the end of the pandemic”, even though they had all been warned that it was not over and that a “Second Wave” was almost certain to strike before the end of the summer. People flocked to the parks and beaches, without face masks and without observing the social distancing rules which were still in effect. Even before that, pubs and nightclubs, which had been allowed to open as long as they observed certain rules, did not enforce them (claiming that they could not do so), and even a walk down the street to go shopping exposed the law-abiding citizen to dozens of others who were wearing their masks on their chins rather than over their noses and mouths!

The government says, however, that it is too soon to be sure if this is, indeed, the expected “Second Wave” or merely a localised outbreak and has therefore decided to wait and see, rather than re-impose restrictions which have already been lifted. Fortunately, though, they have at least reconsidered a further easing of restrictions which had been planned for the coming days.

Be that as it may, Yours Truly decided not to take unnecessary risks and, instead of going to my first singing lesson in three months, decided to take up my vocal coach’s offer of a lesson via Zoom.

Which, of course, brings me to my choir. We had a meeting on Sunday – also via Zoom – to discuss when, and in what format, we can venture to start meeting again in person for rehearsals, given the opinion of several experts that choral singing is one of the activities most likely to spread the virus. We have not yet reached a conclusion. Yours Truly was not the only one to think we should wait to see what happens with this latest outbreak of the disease.

It occurs to me that it’s been a while since I taught my non-Hebrew-speaking readers any new Hebrew words, so I shall make up for it now with a whole slew of them.  First of all, the Hebrew word for virus (not the kind that gets into your computer) is negif  (נגיף) – with the accent on the second syllable. COVID – 19 is simply called negif hacorona.  I have heard several suggestions for a proper Hebrew name for the virus, based on the Hebrew words for various kinds of crown or coronet, but so far, the Academy of the Hebrew Language  has not seen fit to adopt any of them.

Next up – Social Distancing is richuk chevrati (ריחוק חברתי), with the accent on the last syllable in each word. “Ch” is pronounced as something between Johann Sebastian Bach (of course, I would make the musical connection 😉 ) and  the Spanish name Juan. The expression comes from the same roots as rachok (רחוק), meaning “far” and chevra (חברה), meaning “society” or “company”.

Last, but not least, we have just celebrated Shavuot, the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), when it is customary to eat lots of milk products – and what would Shavuot be without Cheesecake (Ougat Gvina – עוגת גבינה), from the words Ouga (cake) and Gvina (cheese)?
Since my cheesecake turned out spectacularly well, I can’t possibly not  share the recipe with you.




1 tbsp kosher gelatine powder
125 ml (half a cup) boiling water
250 grams Petit Beurre/digestive biscuits
100 grams unsalted butter
750 grams soft white cream cheese (9% fat)
150 grams (2 thirds of a  cup) sugar plus 2 tbsp sugar
250 ml whipping cream (32% or 38% fat)
Juice of half a lemon (optional)
A handful of raisins and/or cranberries (also optional)


1. Melt the gelatine in half a cup of boiling water and set aside to cool.
2. Crush the biscuits in a food processor or blender.
3. Melt the butter in small saucepan or a microwave till it turns to liquid, pour over the biscuits and mix well.
4. Pour the biscuit crumb and butter mixture into a round cake mould (26 or 28 cm diameter).
5. Mix the cream cheese with 150 grams of sugar.
6. Whip up the whipping cream together with 2 tbsp of sugar until it is stiff and then fold it into the cheese mixture.
7. Add the gelatine mixture which should have now cooled down.
8. At this point, you can add the lemon juice, but, as I said, it’s optional. You also have the option now to toss in a handful of raisins and/or cranberries into the cream-cheese mixture.
9. Pour the cream-cheese mixture over the biscuit crumb mixture.
10. Cover the whole with cling-wrap and refrigerate for several hours until the cake “sets”.





Bon appetit – or, as we say in Hebrew, b’te-avon (בתיאבון).




About Shimona from the Palace

Born in London, the UK, I came on Aliyah in my teens and now live in Jerusalem, where I practice law. I am a firm believer in the words of Albert Schweitzer: "There are two means of refuge from the sorrows of this world - Music and Cats." To that, you can add Literature. To curl up on the sofa with a good book, a cat at one's feet and another one on one's lap, with a classical symphony or concerto in the background - what more can a person ask for?
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6 Responses to The Corona Chronicles – We’re Not Yet Out Of The Woods

  1. We still have strict restrictions here in my section of the US. We are watching the results of openings in other places to see what the consequences are. Cheesecake is perfect for many occasions or no occasion at all!

    • I can’t understand how the US government is even considering relaxing the restrictions when there seems to be no let-up in the pandemic. In fact, the impression one receives is that it’s still getting worse! And that’s not even the worst of your worries over there at the moment 😦

  2. CATachresis says:

    I suspect the British government are also being far too quick to lift restrictions. Here in Wales the assembly is being more cautious, but on my rare forays into town it does look as if people are relaxing. If you watch the BBC news you can see the beaches are packed with social distancing not being implemented at all! It’s like trying to contain a fat woman in a corset!!! It’s all got to pop out somewhere!!! 🙂

    Cheesecake looks delish! Thanks for the new Hebrew words.

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