Elinoar

The Benyamini home stood at the beginning of Afeka, the gateway to the neighbourhood. The door of the studio was always open and the neighbours always popped in for a chat or to see what is new. There was always activity in their house – experiments or a kiln being filled. When I first met “Sachar”, as he was called by the children, I was in second grade. I came with my mom to the studio and I remember the smell of the fresh clay, the bright glazes and the thousand possibilities. I recall how nice he was, how he let me sit next to him on the big kick wheel that he had built. I sat there with my legs dangling in the air, right next to him so as not to fall. With a kick of the big flywheel he began the building process and I saw how a lump of clay was transformed into a pot filled with air. This is how my romance began with the Benyaminis.

The first lesson was to build a cup and then a bottle, a bell and slowly in every house in Afeka there were clay characters: a fish, prince, princess, queen, all of them born to the Benyamini dynasty. Yehudit, an artist in her own right, would quietly decorate the pots made by Issachar, commenting on the work and praising the outcome. Each lesson would end with icecream served in a little ceramic bowl, either upstairs in their home or in the carefully tended garden. The studio become the club, a meeting place for all generations of the “children” of Issachar and Yehudit.

Issachar was in his fifties and yet his spirit was that of a child; work was play and he played with serious commitment, from their home he built brick by brick to the way in which he washed the spoons from the icecream.

Several years after I studied at the Bezalel Art Acadamy, I heard the tragic news of the bus that was attacked by terrorists in Egypt. Frantic phone calls and fragmented news confirmed the awful truth that Issachar was killed and Yehudit injured. In the years that followed Yehudit continued the Benyamini heritage; experiencing life, studying, travelling and an open home. On my visits home from the USA we always caught up through the various stages of life. Since then, when I drive into the neighbourhood with the sound of music from the radio in the background, I still manage to hear the rolling laughter of Issachar and the paddling of the clay, even though they are no longer alive, the connection continues, a connection of clay and heart.