Before Shabbos: The Miracle of Lucy Dee’s Chicken Soup
We are told and read throughout our lives about miracles that originated from the High. And then, we are facing them, sometimes. These kinds of miracles are revelations. Its matter-subjects have nothing to do with the essence of the Message.
Rabbi Leo Dee, a unique man of a unique strength, very generous and genuinely graceful, shared many inner and private things with us recently, in the wake of the unimaginable tragedy that fell upon his very good family because of the vile terrorist attack.
In the matter of just one week, from Shabbes to Shabbes, this family lost almost half of itself, their mother and two daughters. Rabbi Leo and three of the surviving siblings went through two funerals, one of them double, and another is of mother and wife in the blossom of her and her family life, within two days. And it all happened during the Pesach, in the midst of it.
I do not know how one can sustain it – but I saw how Rabbi Leo with his hands keeping the hands of his children was walking to the Efrat Synagogue for the rounding Pesach service.
This photo epitomizes the best in our people: our dignity, decency and strength, ten-fold more so under the circumstances of mortal danger and tragedies. That’s why and that’s how we are surviving all those thousands of years being intentionally persecuted non-stop throughout history.
He also actively, although wonderfully subtly, single-handedly emphasized the dignity of the Israeli flag with his great initiative to commemorate his murdered family in this way world-wide, and making his point very clearly while delicately and elegantly. The simple faith about which this Rabbi is telling us in his pure way is not about force. It is about dignity and dignified understanding. Nothing is stronger than that.
The one of many things which Rabbi Leo shared with us, releasing his pain for just a little, was first the story of the Lucy’s Chicken Soup recipe and then the recipe itself. The story is more than amazing. It is the kind of a miracle which makes one’s faith strong. In their very close relationships, Leo and Lucy Dee shared everything with each other. Except one thing. Lucy’s recipe for her Chicken Soup. Leo could help his beloved wife with anything in their large family of seven’ kitchen but the Lucy’s Chicken Soup. No exceptions.
On the Shabbes before the tragedy, which is as unimaginable as it is, just a week ago, Lucy was very busy with her work as a teacher of English. So she did send Leo the recipe for the soup. Literally two days before she and two of their daughters would be murdered in that barbaric terrorist assault. Lucy kept her soup’s secret from Leo for 25 years. Before that Friday, two days before her life would be taken.
Leo and his family are sitting shivah (a week of mourning) now. And yet, this remarkable man whose capacity of thinking and reflecting is exemplary, thought about sharing not only that episode, but, after the funeral of his beloved wife less than two days after burying his girls of 20 and 15 in a double grave, he shared with us the Lucy’s Chicken Soup recipe itself, in full detail. On the Shabbes eve. For us. To keep his wife’s legacy alive, in the most direct, authentic, cordial Yiddishe Mama-kind of way which speaks to every Jewish heart unmistakably.
Here it is: – as it comes from Rabbi Leo:
“This was the chicken soup recipe Lucy finally shared with me. Please share with the world. X
Chicken Soup with Vegetables
1 packet chicken neck/ wings or turkey neck
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 4
2 courgettes in 4 pieces
1 piece of pumpkin cut into 4
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 tomatoes chopped small
1 parsley root peeled and chopped into 6
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
3 bay leaves,
½ teaspoon dill/basil/cumin
1 tablespoon chicken soup powder
salt and pepper to taste.
Place the chicken/turkey into a large pot and dry fry with the onion while you chop the other veggies, stirring so it gets a bit of colour evenly.
Add the remaining ingredients. Fill with enough water to reach about 3 inches from the top of the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for 2 hours. Simmer for another 2 hours for best flavour.
This is the first time in my life when reading a recipe makes me cry. But I know that the Shabbes is coming, and I am whipping my tears away, going to my kitchen to prepare the Lucy’s Chicken Soup for our Shabbes in our home tonight, as I am sure so many other Jewish households worldwide will do for this and many other Shabbeses to come.
Every chicken soup at every Jewish home is the soup not by us only, but also by our mothers and grandmothers. I always was sticking to my grandma’s recipes for many things, and definitely for the chicken soup. I am writing it on my paternal grandmother’s birthday, Bella bat Shira Zatulovsky-Bujanover, and am thinking of her and my father’s family of great engineers, doctors, and scientists, some of them with world’s fame, and some of them with dramatic and tragic destinies. I am also remembering our weekly dinners at my paternal grandparents home during all years of their lives.
Since this Shabbes, Lucy’s very good gourmet Chicken Soup, with striking history behind it, has entered our household, too. I know that Rabbi Leo is hoping that this would happen for many Jewish families, and I know that he is right. It comes organically, importantly.
The association with my work from the Creation Stories collection with this heart-wrenching but at the same time heart-strengthening story is light. The light of Lucy, Maia and Rina Dees. The light of Lucy’s Chicken Soup which thanks to her great husband has become a tangible symbol of love. The light of and strength of Leo Dee and the Dee family of kind, good and strong people. The light of all those both in the Efrat community and beyond who love and support the Dee family in this ultimately daring hour so warmly and sharing their hearts with them.
The Light which can transcend itself in such a simple thing as a chicken soup making it the Chicken Soup. Lucy Dee’s Chicken Soup for those who can perceive it – and who would be blessed to become a bit better and stronger infused by a particle of this Light.
Paraphrasing Talmud and referring to his great teachers, Rabbi Leo many times in his eulogies for his daughters and wife emphasized that the attitude of ‘the simple faith, as he put it, is to focus not on what one does not have but on what one does have’.
This lesson of humility that originates from the humility of Moshe Rabbeinu has nothing to do with self-depreciation. It has everything to do with the unpretentious way of expressing the deep intelligence of understanding a life process. The quality which provides one with calmness and dignity. When Rabbi Leo often says ‘simple faith’ and refers to ‘simple things’ it means purity of one’s attitude to one’s spiritual dimension and how this purity transforms one’s inner lenses to perceive things simply. Anything which is clarified to the best looks and perceived as simple. This is this golden simplicity, the best distilled product of our inner work in perceiving the world around us. I hope that Leo Dee will be teaching a lot of people in his life. We all will benefit from it greatly.
Three works from my Creation Stories series dedicated to the Dee Family are on the way to them soon. The House of Souls (2023) is dedicated to the enlightened memory of Lucy, Maia and Rina Dee. The Dominion of Light ( 2022) is dedicated to Lucy Dee’s Chicken Soup Miracle. Jacob and His Sons ( 2022) is dedicated to Rabbi Leo Dee, his immediate and extended families.
I hope that these works once at the Dee family house in Efrat, would give them some light and consolation. In their unbounded grief, they did manage to provide a lot of consolation to many of us, in the best paradoxical way. This is not to speak about saving five lives with transplanted donated Lucy’s organs. Even doctors called this donation as ‘unimaginable generosity’. In fact, people who know and understand Leo Dee and his family, were not that surprised. This is what Light does against darkness. This is how it does it. And this is why Light prevails darkness. There is no alternative to that.
Gut Shabbes to you all, and our Love to Rabbi Leo, three Dee children, and the entire Dee family.
April 14, 2023