Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5 x 3inch loaf pan. Place dates in a large bowl, sprinkle soda over dates and pour boiling water over top. Set aside for about 5-10 minutes to cool. In another bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar and walnuts. Beat the egg with the oil and add to the cooled date mixture. Stir in the dry ingredients and mix well.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until bread begins to pull away from side of pan and center is done when tested. Set aside to cool and unmold.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, blend whipped cream cheese with sugar and lemon zest.
To serve, slice the bread thin and top with a spoonful of cream cheese.
c.1996, M.S. Milliken & S. Feniger, all rights reserved