State of the Union / When Moshe met Eliza
A New Year's kiss ignites a mid-life romance between a former Israeli rocker and a Beverly Hills transplant.
It was New Year's Eve, and Eliza Steinberg was debating between going to sleep and popping over to her neighbor Oshrit’s house in Givon Hachadasha, a settlement near Jerusalem. She popped in. A rocking party it was not.
“There were five people there and wine. You know, New Year's in Israel,” shrugs the 46-year-old Beverly Hills native, who did a stint modeling in Italy after college, whose best friend growing up was Lenny Kravitz, and whose sister is married to U2’s the Edge – and who, presumably, had been to better parties in her life.
Moshe Shloush, a former nightclub singer who manages a neighborhood mini market in Tel Aviv, had driven up to the party, and somehow figured out a way to both pop in and sleep at the same time.
“I came in sweatpants,” says the 51-year-old.
He snuggled for a while with Oshrit, with whom he had been on a few underwhelming dates, and promptly fell asleep on the couch.
At midnight, Eliza kissed her friend Menachem, who was sitting nearby, “because, well, it was midnight and he was the only guy awake in the room.”
“I had been separated for three years and was at a point in my life where I didn’t feel like anything serious,” says Eliza, who had come to Israel on vacation with her grandfather 20 years earlier, fallen in love with an Israeli and stayed. A wedding, two kids, and close to two decades later, she called it quits on the relationship, but by then Israel was home.
Later, when Moshe joined the world of the awake, he escorted Eliza home, asking lots of questions as they walked down the gravel lane. He had heard she was a part-time breast feeding counselor, true? And why did she live in the West Bank? Was it because of politics or the affordable housing? Eliza was not too interested, answering in monosyllables. “Yes,” she responded. “Both,” she said. “I love your long answers,” he told her, making her laugh.
And then he kissed her goodnight. “It was just one little kiss – on the lips, really simple, sort of surprising, but really nice,” says Eliza. “I still remember it.”
“It was spontaneous. I felt a little click,” says Moshe. “And then after, I thought, ‘Hmm. That was tasty.’”
All that happened four and a half years ago. And neither has kissed anyone else since.
The following Wednesday, Eliza got a babysitter for her kids, Qamai, and Elai, who were 10 and seven at the time – and drove to Tel Aviv to go salsa dancing.
On the way, Moshe – who had, he wants noted, checked in with Oshrit and asked her if it was okay – invited Eliza over. It was pouring rain that night, she remembers, which was a bummer because she had just had her hair done. She dashed into his place, giving up going to salsa night, as it turned out, for longer than she might have realized.
“How can I allow a stranger to put his arm on her shoulder? That is way too intimate,” insists Moshe, a hunky three-times-a-week squash player. “And don’t tell me it’s a Moroccan versus an American thing,” he says, preempting Eliza’s protests. “When I was single, if a woman let me put my hands on her the way they do in salsa, I would think I have a 99 percent chance of going to bed with her.”
“But that’s because then you would go to bed with anyone,” she notes, matter-of-factly. Eliza, who grew up taking modern, tap and jazz dance classes, and whose two sisters are both professional dancers, really loved those salsa nights. But she respects Moshe’s desires.
“He is so conservative. He is so Moroccan,” she sighs. “But I would rather have it like this than be with someone who didn’t care.”
Soon, Eliza started coming to see Moshe in Tel Aviv every other weekend. The two would leave their phones behind and go for long walks along the boardwalk and over to the Yarkon Park.
“Those walks were amazing,” she says. “We put everything else aside and talked. It’s what I had always hoped for. It was really pure and I was 100 percent comfortable.”
He told her about growing up on Moshav Hosen in the Western Galilee with his five sisters and two brothers, his army service and his glory days as a minor celebrity rocker, playing clubs, weddings and cruise ships.
She told him about life at Beverly Hills High School and her sisters, Morleigh, who lives in Dublin, and Roxanne, a Bhutto dancer who lives with her Japanese husband in Los Angeles.
He told her about his first wife and their two grown-up daughters, Sapir and Kelly, who were 18 and 15 at the time. He told her about the breakdown of his next relationship, with a woman 10 years his senior who ended up suing him. That mess, he believes, stressed him out so much that he lost his voice, forcing him off the stage and into the mini market.
“It was hard, after being famous, to do that,” he admits.
Eliza, who was going through her own divorce wrangling, understood his suffering. And she didn’t mind not having known him in those glory days he talked so much about. She fell in love with him, she says, as he was.
“I really don’t care what people do. He is funny and sensitive and easygoing. And he can fix things," she says. "We just flow together. We don’t get stuck on things. We laugh a lot.”
“She is the best audience for my humor,” says Moshe, smiling.
It took him longer to fall in love, he admits.
“But after about three months it became clear to me that this woman, in some incredible way, just completed me. Every day, every week, every month, she made me complete.”
Eliza introduced Moshe to her kids. He introduced her to his.
“These things take a while,” he says. “But we had patience, and took it slowly, and in time, we figured it out.”
The first really fun thing they did together as a couple with his daughters, Moshe recalls, was to go on a trip to Poland – their own personal March of the Living, with a few tweaks. They went to the concentration camps, but also to a U2 concert near Auschwitz, where they hung out backstage.
“It was awesome,” Eliza says.
“And that other time, we all went on a cruise to Crete together too, which was fun,” Moshe says, absentmindedly.
“Huh?” says Eliza, raising an eyebrow. “You are confusing me with Ariella,” she informs him.
"Who?" he asks.
“If I had met him in high school he would have broken my heart,” Eliza says. “He's a ladies many – too many girls.”
“Maybe it seems that way,” Moshe says. “But I always knew I was a one woman man. I just needed to find a woman I loved.”
“His basic personality is not that of a cheater. He just was in the wrong relationships before. I don’t feel like that would happen with us,” says Eliza. “And we have the best sex in the world. If we didn't have to work we would stay in bed all day.”
This summer, the two traveled to the south of France to stay at Edge and Bono’s beach mansion there.
“What can I tell you, it was a dream,” says Moshe, standing behind the checkout counter of his mini mart. “But I was also happy to come home. I like my routine, even if it’s a little boring at times.”
Eliza has the same attitude.
“Sometimes I think, ‘What if I had stayed in Beverly Hills and married some rich guy or remained in Italy.' I wonder what my life might have looked like,” she says. “But I don’t regret. I don’t dwell. I’m the kind of person who is happy where I am.”
These days, the two have embarked on a joint project, turning a derelict house near where Moshe’s mom lives on the moshav into a boutique villa for rent.
“We designed it together. It was like our baby. And we had the best time doing it,” says Eliza. "We just see eye to eye on everything."
The plan now is for Eliza and the kids to move to Tel Aviv so they can all live together.
“He was totally spoiled by his mother and five sisters, Moroccan wife and Polish girlfriend. He never had to lift a finger at home,” Eliza says. “It'll be interesting how it will be when we live together.”
“But we speak on the phone 100 times a day. We miss each other. I hate that I don’t live with him,” says Eliza. “My friends say that it’s because we don’t live together that we have such great sex. But not at all, we are great together because we are great together.”
“We are so alike,” says Moshe. “It’s amazing.”
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