The home as inspiration

Kaila Shabat says her Ganei Tikva home was what inspired her to become an author.

Niches to the right of the dining furniture showcase a collection of ceramic and silver pomegranates. (photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
Niches to the right of the dining furniture showcase a collection of ceramic and silver pomegranates.
(photo credit: URIEL MESSA)
Kaila Shabat is a poet and writer. She has published several books of poetry and is working on a journal of her life, parts of which will be published. She strongly feels that her home in Ganei Tikva was part of her inspiration and what started her on the path of being an author.
“What happened was that my husband and I were living in an apartment in Petah Tikva,” she explains. “Fifteen years ago, we bought a new, modern apartment on the 11th floor of a high-rise building.
We had taken an interior decorator, and with her help, we had made it just as we wanted it, with carefully chosen color schemes. When we finally got the key, we went up to the apartment, and we looked at each other, and we decided together that this was not where we wanted to live.
It wasn’t a whim on my part – we both felt the same.”
Within a month, they had sold the apartment and found the present home, which was being built. Soon after they moved in, she began to write, something she had not done for many years.
They employed a young designer, Sharon Asher, to help with the décor. She is the daughter of friends, and they also recruited a son of friends to help in the garden.
“I like to be able to help young people get started,” Shabat says. “Today they are both well established in their fields.”
The designer insisted on making a partition off the bedroom as a workroom for Shabat. “I didn’t want it, as my work at the time consisted of housework and ironing,” she says. “I told her I don’t do the household accounts, and I don’t need a workroom of my own, that I would move my vacuum cleaner and ironing board in there.”
But soon afterward, she became a prolific writer, leaving pencils and paper all over the house. Her husband said that he would turn her workroom into a place where she could write, and dubbed it “Studio K.”
The partition is inspired by Japanese doors, and the frame of the entrance to her small workroom is made of cherry wood. When the doors are closed, the shelves and their contents are visible, books by fellow poets on one side, family photos on the other.
The guitar next to the bed quickly gave way to the beautiful harp she is now learning to play.
“The harp is made by Peter Isacowitz. He is a South African immigrant who settled in Rosh Pina and makes harps and all kinds of other string instruments, some of which he invents. The sound is lovely.”
She explains that she chose the harp because she feels it is a healing instrument and had a strong feeling it was what she should do.
“I went to a Kabbalat Shabbat evening and there was a harpist playing – I was very taken with it and decided I wanted to learn to play,” she says.
At the front door of the house hangs a miniature harp, which makes beautiful sounds when the wind blows through it.
In the room where she keeps her harp, there are several paintings done by her grandfather, who liked to copy old masters, and there are a few pieces of furniture that belonged to her father, an antique dealer. Her brother is a well-known collector of ancient musical instruments.
Gold is the shade that dominates in the dining room, with light furniture, white and gold drapes and gold-flecked flooring. The partitions on either side are eye-catching, with the wall to the left of the dining furniture containing a V-shaped gap, while the right wall has niches showing a collection of ceramic and silver pomegranates.
“Many of them were gifts from friends,” says the owner. “The pomegranate is supposed to have 613 seeds, like the 613 commandments – and anyway I like to drink pomegranate juice.”
The pergola outside is another peaceful corner where the couple can sit and enjoy the well-tended lawn and flourishing trees. Her husband is an ex-kibbutznik.
“He’s a man of the land,” she says with a smile.
On the wall are three framed poems she wrote about the garden. Writing is an important part of her life – and just maybe she can thank her home for being a source of inspiration.