(photo credit: Courtesy)
I first met ceramic artist Tzafra Porat in January when I dropped by her studio on Kibbutz Kfar Giladi.
I was immediately impressed by her range of creative designs and by the artist herself, for whom ceramics is clearly a labor of love. As I entered, Tzafra, who was seated at the potters’ wheel working on her latest creation, stopped, wiped her clay-covered hands and welcomed me warmly. She spoke briefly about herself and her work.
Born in Kiryat Tivon just over 60 years ago, Tzafra’s personal history and that of the State of Israel are closely entwined. As a young girl she was active in the Labor Youth Movement and later met her husband, Yankele, her Nahal commander during military service in the Sinai.
She joined him on Kfar Giladi where she raised three girls and took on a variety of different jobs. In her spare time she participated in a weekly ceramic workshop at the local Tel Hai College. “That was the day of the week I really looked forward to,” she says.
Following a two-year sojourn in London in 1986, where her husband served as an emissary for Habonim-Dror, they returned to the kibbutz where a terrible tragedy befell the family. Their youngest daughter, six-year old Raheli, was killed in a car accident near the family home. From the depths of despair and pain she came to the conclusion that life had to continue. A year and a half later Lior was born. He currently serves in the air force.
Following the privatization of the kibbutz, Tzafra decided to pursue her life’s dream and open a ceramics studio and gallery selling a wide variety of rustic-style tableware. She can be found in her studio seven days a week and admits that “while it’s hard work, I enjoy every moment. I return home exhausted but happy.”
As for many Israeli households, Remembrance Day and Independence Day are bittersweet days for Tzafra and her family where personal loss (Yankele’s brother, a pilot, fell on a mission 41 years ago) is closely followed by celebration. Tzafra belongs to the generation born soon after the establishment of the state and she is fiercely proud of the free, independent, Jewish state.
Having raised a family under the constant threat of Katyusha rockets and terrorist infiltrations, she remains optimistic.
“Though we live in the shadow of security
uncertainties, we enjoy a happy and full life,” she says. “I raised my
children in the lush scenery of the North and despite everything, I
never dreamed of giving up and leaving.”
Carrying my new purchases, I take my leave of Tzafra content in the
knowledge that I shall soon return to the Upper Galilee and the
charming studio in Kfar Giladi.
Tzafra Porat can be reached at (050) 726-5955.The writer is a licensed tour guide – email@example.com.