Family Affair / The Speyers of Bnei Re'em
Hadar (37 ), Moshe (37 ), Mor (13 ), Shahar (11 ), Talia (6 ), of the religious moshav, Bnei Re'em.
* The cast: Hadar (37 ), Moshe (37 ), Mor (13 ), Shahar (11 ), Talia (6 ).
* The home: The family lives "in the expansion section" of the moshav, or cooperative rural village, in 170 square meters on half a dunam (1/8 acre ), in a contemporary, one-floor home with a flat roof. The walls are yellowish; in the front is tuff and plants on window sills, palms, a Chinese orange tree and philodendron growing in earthen jars; in the back is a pergola, grass, an olive tree, Chinese honeysuckle and a vineyard.
* Vineyard: On the other side of the fence, belonging to a neighbor ("He has a boutique winery" ), the vineyard stretches to the horizon and is rather bare at the moment. The family gets two bottles as a gift every year.
* Entering: On the other side of the broad entry door (with iron fittings) sits Patrick (a rabbit who has been placed on the porch for some air, in his cage ). There is a large space with "matte-silk porcelain" floor tiling. This is the "public area," which includes living room, open kitchen (with an island ), dining area, TV corner and a study with two computers. On the left is the "private area," consisting of a master bedroom and three children's rooms ("without computers on principle, and we also know their Facebook passwords" ). The architectural principles were set by Hadar.
* Architectural principles: The structure is on one floor, all the bedrooms face east for "delightful morning light," and the construction lines are hidden and reflected in the interior design, we are told. Gray is beautiful but earth colors are preferable ("They create a sense of warmth" ). We are given a tour.
* Tour: The living room contains two brown suede sofas (purchased at Bilu Junction ) and a coffee table at a diagonal, as though straddling an angle between them (the hidden construction line again ). Abutting the wall are two Mexican-style chairs (from Tel Aviv ), on the ceiling is a trellised lampshade (from Cyprus ) with multiple candle-like light bulbs. There is no carpet ("We preferred not to cover the floor" ). A wall niche contains a library of religious works, including a Babylonian Talmud and also two shofars (ram's horns ), a bar-mitzvah gift to Mor from his grandfather. We head for the bedrooms.
* The bedrooms: Mor's room boasts a Real Madrid flag, Shahar is a Barcelona fan and Talia has flowers painted above her pink-covered bed. We peek into the master bedroom (the bed has a broad, altar-like wooden frame ), then look into the study (a Technion diploma ) and finally gather around the kitchen island (muffins from the oven ).
* Real estate history: The family moved here from Rehovot in 2006, paying ("everything included" ) NIS 900,000 ("Let's see you buy a house like this today for NIS 2.5 million" ). They have a mortgage (12 years ) and are living with it "peacefully." Their neighbors in the Ackerstein-paved neighborhood are, like them, affiliated with the national-religious movement ("People don't drive here on Shabbat" ).
* Livelihoods and occupations: Moshe is an accountant and a partner in Micha Azoulay & Co. on Hashmonaim Street, Tel Aviv. He works a six-day week, on Tuesdays and Fridays teaches chartered accountancy at the College of Management in Rishon Letzion ("Teaching is therapy" ), finds the profession's creativity in tax planning and says December is the cruelest month (tax returns ). He gets to work and back in his 2010 Suzuki Alto along with the shuttle into Tel Aviv from the new parking lot outside the city on the highway ("I was one of the first users" ), which he terms a success story ("45 minutes from home to office door" ). Twice a week he makes sure to get home by 4 P.M. ("I am a father at home" ), assists the children when needed in mathematics and Gemara ("my subjects" ).
* Hadar: She is an architect, a graduate of the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, self-employed and working from home. She focuses on private residential design and has clients from the area: Rehovot, Yad Binyamin, Ganei Tal and Nehusha ("which is more of a nature reserve, without lighting at nights, so the grasshoppers can mate" ). She believes in functionality ("An architect is not a sculptor" ), describes Jerusalem's Chord's Bridge as "a clever wink in a heavy city." Being self-employed, she says, allows her to divide the day so that she can be "a mom at home." In addition, she does volunteer work once a week (Wednesday mornings ) at a nursing home in Yad Binyamin ("I felt that I was missing the act of giving" ), and drives a 2009 Ford Focus station wagon.
* The children: Mor is in the eighth grade in a yeshiva that is part of a network of religious institutions for boys and girls named for Rabbi Kook in Yad Binyamin (NIS 8,500 a year ), gets home after a long school day, but next year will sleep over (at his request ) in the yeshiva's boarding school twice a week and every second Shabbat. Extra-curricular activities: soccer and breeding fish ("I have 'Thai fighters,' a goldfish and two Telescopes [a type of goldfish]" ). Shahar is in the fifth grade in a state-religious school in Yad Binyamin and plays soccer in the afternoon with a regular group of children ("I'm a forward who can smell goals" ). Talia attends a local kindergarten, getting there and back with Mom, except for Tuesdays (Dad ).
* Moshe's bio: Born in 1974, Bnei Brak, Moshe spent his childhood in Rishon Letzion and has two younger brothers ("For 65 years only boys were born in our family - until Talia" ); his native-born parents, children of Holocaust survivors, were members of Bnei Akiva, the national-religious youth movement. His father, whose origins are in Germany, was a financial adviser (until he suffered a stroke ); his mother, descended from Hungarian parents, was a teacher. Moshe attended a state-religious primary school in Rishon Letzion, a high-school yeshiva, then a pre-army religious institution in Safed before doing military service in the navy. He married Hadar in the course of that service.
* Hadar: Nee Schwarzappel, she was born in 1973 (November 29, the anniversary of the UN partition resolution ) and is eldest of four (two brothers and a sister ) in their religious-Zionist family; her parents are native-born and her grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Her father is a vice president for finances in an investment company, her mother is an interior designer. She attended a primary state-religious school in Rishon Letzion, then an ulpana (girls' religious school ) in which she took expanded matriculation courses in Bible, Mishna and chemistry; she did army service ("which was not really encouraged by the ulpana" ) in Safed as a teacher-soldier within the framework of the Israel Society for the Protection of Nature ("with an emphasis on Safed's heritage, hikes in Amud valley" ). She has known Moshe since childhood; they were both members of Bnei Akiva when it was still coed. "There is a tendency toward ultra-Orthodoxy," he says, "a tendency of 'strengthening.'" In any event, before he left for the pre-army institution in Safed, he asked her siblings if they would like him to take her a package (she was already serving there ). Hadar, updated about this development, was curious and called him.
* The meeting: At the end of that conversation they arranged to meet in a Chinese restaurant in Rishon Letzion. "It was on the fourth day of [the Hebrew month of] Shvat, in the year 5752," they both remember. "And I also remember her hair flying in the wind," Moshe says. They were married after two years and nine months.
* The wedding: It was in 1994 at the Genesis Hall, Rishon Letzion. Moshe was a soldier, Hadar a student; the parents paid ("We weren't even 21 yet" ). Moshe recalls almost collapsing when the photographer asked him to carry the bride on his shoulders ("Even though she weighed 49 kilos, I didn't take the dress into account" ). The families, who knew each other, wept with happiness. The Wine Grapes Band played Hasidic music and then went into samba mode. All the children were born in Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot ("with epidural" ).
* Daily routine: Moshe gets up at 6 A.M., washes his hands, dresses and leaves for Tel Aviv without having anything to eat or drink. He recites the morning prayers in the old synagogue of the Montefiore neighborhood near his office and then has a bagel with Bulgarian cheese at Schnitzel King (a nearby restaurant ). Hadar gets up at 6:30, wakes Mor, prepares a chocolate drink and sandwiches for everyone, has a glass of water and wakes Shahar and Talia. Mor leaves for her transportation to school, followed by Shahar 20 minutes later. Hadar drives Talia to the kindergarten at 8 ("after a stormy argument about what to wear" ).
* Lunch: Moshe has a big meal in a salad place ("Couscous is mandatory on Wednesdays at Kebab-Burger" ), Mor eats only Mom's food in the yeshiva (he doesn't like the food that's served there ), and Shahar, Talia and Hadar eat at home ("Pasta and schnitzel are always welcome" ). Mor gets back between 5 and 6 P.M., Moshe is flexible (between 4 and 9:30 ), but supper is at 6:30. Hadar only nibbles so that she can have a late hot meal with Moshe ("sweet potato ravioli" ).
* TV: Hadar likes "Grey's Anatomy" and the Israeli series "Yellow Peppers," Moshe goes for "the Champions League [in soccer] and 'TV-sleeping,'" Talia likes the Children's Channel on cable TV, and the boys rarely watch.
* Dreams: "To live in Safed when we're old" - Hadar; "To have real conversations with Dad like we used to" - Moshe. Mor - "a lawyer," Shahar - "to play for Barcelona," Talia - "to be a mom."
* Household chores: The family has a cleaning person from Ashkelon once a week, for four hours (NIS 40/hour plus travel expenses ). Hadar is in charge of cooking, laundry and sick children, bills is Moshe, shopping is together ("the Rami Levy supermarket in the Big center at Kastina Junction and extra stuff from Shmulik's grocery store" ).
* Fights and making up: "If you come from a religious home, there is less chance of divorce," Moshe says, "and we, thank God, have not had any difficult periods in our relationship."
* Peace: "There is no partner," Moshe says. "The disengagement from Gaza was a pilot effort that failed." Hadar: "Life is more important than land."
* Happiness quotient (scale of 1-10 ): Hadar, Moshe and Shahar - 9; Mor and Talia - 10.
Bnei Re'em - This is a religious moshav located near Re'em Junction (Masmiya ), named for the Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter (an acronym in Hebrew ), and established 1949.