What’s a Sabra?

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“Sabra” can refer to a Jewish person born in Israel, as well as various food and drink recipes from Israel. The term comes from the Hebrew word for a cactus plant native to the area, and is often used to describe the tough exterior and sweet interior of Israeli Jews. Some dishes use the cactus plant as an ingredient, while others are simply associated with Israeli culture.

The use of the term sabra has different meanings, depending on the place and the culture. Here are some examples of the most common use of the word sabra and the reasoning behind the usage.

Perhaps the most common use of sabra has to do with identifying a person who is both Jewish and a native Israeli. While many Jews reside in the country of Israel today, many citizens were born elsewhere and therefore cannot be termed sabra by purists. Originally coined as a derisive term for a Jew born on Israeli soil, sabra comes from a Hebrew word, tzabur.

Tzabur actually refers to a cactus plant native to the area, which is sometimes referred to as a prickly pear cactus. The tzabur has the ability to thrive under extremely adverse conditions and is known for having a complete spine system that protects an extremely sweet and tender interior. Referring to an Israeli Jew born as a sabra he tended to focus more on the tough appearance and apparent reluctance to bend over. Over the years, the once derisive term has begun to be accepted as a playful slang, with more emphasis on the tough exterior protecting a soft and congenial interior.

A number of different food and drink recipes bear the name of sabra, due to their origin in the land of Israel. In fact, there are companies that produce sabra hummus which is used to make delicacies like sabra chicken and sabra chutney. While having nothing to do with the cactus plant that inspired the name, the dishes are seen as having a distinct connection to the culture of Israel.

However, there are some foods that trace their origin directly to the Sabra cactus. Due to the nature of the cactus flesh, a number of delicious dishes can be prepared using the cactus. In some cases, the meat is cured, dried, and ground into a powder that can be used as a paste or a flavoring in various dishes. In other situations, it is chopped up and used in salads, just like fruit slices would be used. The result is a series of different types of Mediterranean-style sauces and sauces that incorporate the sabra in the name of the dish to indicate the use of prickly pear cactus in the recipe.

In general, sabra mainly refers to people who are of the Jewish faith and are also native citizens of Israel. However, in its broadest sense, sabra is a term that has to do with the culture and society of the land of Israel. Keep this in mind if you attend a party and are offered a serving of sabra hummus.

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