Old-world charm

On a religious moshav in the Sharon, a family makes sure they have room for everyone, on any occasion.

bedroom 311 (photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
bedroom 311
(photo credit: Gloria Deutsch)
Antimacassars on the sofas, lace doilies under the ornaments, a profusion of glass storage jars in the kitchen and a hamsa collection warding off evil spirits at the entrance – all consistent with the spirit of this home in the Sharon which we visited recently.
It is situated in a religious moshav, and the owners are a couple who run a thriving garbage collection business. Says the lady of the house, who came here as a small child from Djerba, Tunisia, “It’s holy work. We clean up Eretz Yisrael.” Starting out in the garbage business many years ago, the couple found many things that came in useful when they were young and poor.
“You have no idea what people throw away,” she says.
Today the business is highly developed with departments for recycling and rubbish divided into cardboard, glass, plastic and garden cuttings.
When they started out with a motorized cart, it proved to be a steady source of things they could bring into their modest home to embellish it, and many are still there.
Fortunately the owner is blessed with many creative talents, including being a dab hand at needlework and painting, and she was able to turn some of the garbage finds into attractive pieces which give no hint as to their somewhat dubious origin.
She is also a keen miniaturist, creating small glass-encased scenes which replicate real rooms, and she displays them on one of the many antique cabinets that furnish the sprawling house with its different seating arrangements.
At least two totally separate sitting areas take up a half of the large living room, and she explains that when their five children were small, they would all bring their friends to visit after Friday night dinner at home, and the girls and boys would sit separately.“It wasn’t because we are religious or anything like that,” explains the owner.
“They just each gravitated to their own group and we wanted them all to be comfortable, so we arranged two lots of couches around two coffee tables. Even today the children carry on the tradition.”
TWENTY YEARS AGO when they acquired the one-and-a-halfdunam piece of land with the small two-room house on it, she drew up the design of what she wanted and took it to the engineer who was going to build it for them. “I sketched it out on math paper,” she says. “It didn’t occur to me to get advice from a designer or architect.”
When they wanted to expand the house, they found themselves left with a supporting pillar right in the middle of the lounge. She had the pillar covered in decorative wood and turned it into a library holding many of their sets of holy writings. Far from detracting from the look of the room, it actually enhances it.
The heavy oak dining table is two meters long and can open up to four to accommodate the ever-growing family. “Thank God, we have room for everybody,” she says.
As befits a lady who is still prepared to have pieces of embroidered linen lining her kitchen cupboards, she prepares all the food herself for the big family Shabbat get-togethers.
“I’m very well-organized,” she says. “I buy a lot by phone and have things delivered. I save my strength for myself.”
On the wall next to the dining table, a set of cherrywood shelving extends along the whole length of the wall and here are displayed many metal jugs and vases, lanterns and coffee pots. Drawers underneath are useful for napkins, cutlery and booklets containing the grace after meals. The hamsas are placed on a wall next to the leaded light window of the front door creating a colorful corner.
The house is a treasure trove of antique furniture like the oak dresser at the front door, heavy mahogany sideboards chock full of dishes and tablecloths, an ancient Singer sewing machine in one corner and a modern glass topped table in another filled with collections of ceramic pomegranates made by the owner and interesting shells collected over many years.
The coffee table in the main sitting area was designed by the owner and made by a carpenter out of African walnut. It has drawers all around it to keep the children’s games, hide newspapers or store blankets for the colder nights. The green velvet sofas also have storage beneath.
In the garden, which looks out over the wide green spaces of the Sharon, they have built a log cabin which they lend out to other families in the moshav free of charge for guests from outside visiting on Shabbat who need to stay over.
“We built it about six years ago,” says the owner.
“It was a dream of mine for a long time to be able to offer accommodation to visitors who might want privacy, perhaps to come here and study, or for people who need a place for a Shabbat Hatan [before a wedding].”
With its white and blue furniture on a parquet floor the tzimmer looks like one of her miniature scenes, as though it should be encased in glass and put on display.
Comfortable and aesthetic, what more could any guest want?
Do you feel you own one of Israel’s most beautiful homes? Please e-mail: gloriadeutsch@gmail.com