Family Affair / The Davids of Sitriya

Sitriya - Moshav close to Rehovot, founded in 1949 by new immigrants from Romania and Poland, who arrived from the detention camps in Cyprus. Until 1948, a Bedouin tribe resided in the area.

* Sitriya: The locals say Satariya.

* The cast: Eitan (52 ), Yardena (50 ), Gilad (22 ), May (19 ), Carmel (14 ).

Davids, Sitriya

* The home: Located in the village's verdant expansion section, detached, two floors, flat roof, 250 square meters built on a lot of 550 square meters, patio, roof balcony and gardened yard. The walls are a combination of thin spray and gravel (which comes in from the outside ), in front is a bougainvillea bush (shaped as a tree ) alongside palm trees of the yucca, neodypsis, syagrus and robellini varieties. In the front yard are basalt stones, and on the left flank a plumeria tree is flowering in white.

* Entering: The well-lit house has four levels. The entry level contains the living room, TV viewing area, kitchen and dining area; half a floor below is the basement-cum-security space; half a floor above are three bedrooms for the children; and half a floor above that is the parents' bedroom and access to a large roof balcony. We go into details.

* Details: The walls are asparagus green, the living room furniture was collected from here and there, some of it in the form of inheritances ("We have a fondness for objects with a past" - Yardena ). The Uzbek rug is from her parents' home, the red armchair from the home of her sister-in-law's great-grandparents ("Careful, the arms are sensitive" ), the standing lamp and the piano are from Eitan's late uncle. In the corner is a renovated bureau originally from France ("We gave it to a restorer in Rehovot and look what he came up with" ). On the table is a vase containing an anthurium.

* Anthurium: Distinctive, odd-looking plant, which Eitan grows in his hothouse alongside orchids. "What looks like a leafy stem," he explains, "is actually the blossom."

* Real estate history: The lot was given to them by Eitan's parents (members of the moshav, or cooperative agricultural village ). They paid NIS 90,000 to the Israel Lands Administration and spent $250,000 on construction; they have lived here since 1996 and finished paying off the mortgage a year ago. The family plot consists of eight dunams (two acres ) adjacent to the house and another eight dunams farther off.

* Livelihoods and occupations: Yardena, who has a master's in biology ("and a teacher's certificate" ) and is "a graduate of the conservatory in Lod," wears "three hats."

* Three hats: One as a biology teacher (for 24 years ) at Ramle-Lod High School (next year she will also be a homeroom teacher in the twelfth grade ); the second as a biology tutor at the Davidson Institute for Science Education, located on the campus of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot; and the third as a rhythm and music teacher in kindergartens in the area, with the aid of an 80-button accordion ("'Let's tickle the accordion,' I say to the children" ). Her kindergarten work involves "activity through music" ("but not therapeutic" ). She is in the high school four days a week (until the afternoon ); at the Weizmann Institute on Mondays and Thursdays; and two mornings a week are devoted to the kindergartens ("and from there straight to school" ). "I am a workaholic," she says. She also sings in the village choir, sometimes as a soloist ("I can't exist without music" ). Yardena drives a 2009 Suzuki Swift, has no management ambitions and describes her high school students as an individualist generation ("and I am not saying egotistical" ). She is definitely optimistic.

* Work and family: Yardena feels she is neglecting the house a little ("but not the children" ). They, for their part, she says, do not expect her to devote herself to cleaning or cooking. Their food is prepared by Grandma Estie, Eitan's mother ("He has lunch at her place" ). Eitan cooks the Shabbat meals ("excellent" ) for the family himself.

* Cleaning: Housemaid every two weeks ("but everyone helps with the maintenance" ).

* Shopping: Supermarket, together, two carts ("one cart for the parents" - Eitan ).

* Eitan's occupations: Has a master's in biology (Weizmann Institute ), grows anthuriums in a high tech hothouse which he built in the 1980s on his parents' land. Works alone, with the help of his father, Moshe (84 ). Eitan does fertilizing, picking, packing, cultivates shoots, markets and does the books. "Unfortunately," he says, "it's now almost impossible to make a living like this." The business is in crisis.

* Crisis: The golden age of anthuriums, Eitan says, was ten years ago. These days, people prefer bouquets of roses. Accordingly, after 25 years of toil he will be compelled to eradicate the hothouse, his life's enterprise. "I loved the work," he says drily. In addition to anthuriums, Eitan grows orchids ("to which I am more attached" ) for marketing to a small public ("There are certain people I don't sell to" ). What does the future hold? "I will probably be salaried, an agricultural adviser."

* Children's occupations: Gilad, who recently completed army service (artillery ), is employed in the technical support unit of the Pelephone cellular phone company and is saving up money for a trip to Australia. Flowers aren't for him; he prefers computers.

* May: Soldier in the Teleprocessing Corps, sleeps on the base, goes home for three-day weekends, feels useful. After the de rigueur backpacking trip (South America ), she plans to study architecture. In the meantime she paints and hangs out in a couple of local kibbutz pubs.

* Carmel: This September, will enter the tenth grade in a science school in Lod (semi-private, NIS 4,500 a year ), gets to school in a car pool of the neighbors (with backup from Eitan ), majoring in chemistry and biology. In the afternoon swims under the auspice of the Maccabi sports association in the pool of Moshav Bilu (240 laps, six kilometers per session).

* Yardena's bio: Born in Lod, 1961, eldest of four children. Her father, now retired, was born in Baghdad and immigrated to Israel in 1951, was formerly a special education teacher and "inculcator of the Hebrew language" ("and now teaches new immigrants on a volunteer basis one day a week" ). Her mother, also retired, was born in Oran, Algeria, immigrated to Israel in 1958 and was employed as a clerk in a tableware factory. Attended Ramle-Lod High School ("where I teach and where Dad also taught" ) and the local conservatory, played in the municipal orchestra ("You'll be amazed - Lod is not just what you read about in the papers" ), served in anti-aircraft (as an officer ), studied biology (Hebrew University of Jerusalem ), obtained a master's degree (Hadassah University Hospital ) and met Eitan.

* Eitan: Born in Sitriya, 1959, youngest of three children, parents are Holocaust survivors from Transylvania who immigrated to Israel in 1949 (after spending a year in British detention camps in Cyprus ). His father was a metalworker and afterward grew carnations, his mother was a housewife. Attended high school in Rehovot, served in the Navy (on a missile boat ), obtained an undergraduate degree in biology (Hebrew U ) and a master's degree (Weizmann Institute ) and met Yardena.

* The meeting: He was completing his master's, she was starting hers. A classmate who knew them both showed her his picture and said: "Moshavnik." "That was all I needed," Yardena says. She called him immediately and the next day took the No.248 bus (Ramle to Sitriya ) to visit him. He waited for her at the entrance to the village in a new BMW, with a carnation ("Carnations were a hit back then" ). Yardena: "That wasn't what turned me on; the guy next to the flower did the work." In any event, they talked a little about "the transformation model of germinating spores of the pteris vittata fern" (in Dorit's Cafe, next to the Weizmann Institute ), listened to Dire Straits and were married a year later.

* The wedding: Vitrage Banquet Hall, Nes Tziona ("We got a tryout price" ), February 29 ("a date that comes around every four years" ), 330 guests, most on Yardena's side ("Very few Holocaust survivors were left" - Eitan ). Music was provided by Mr. Happy and their slow dance was "Woman" by John Lennon.

* Daily routine: Eitan gets up at 5, puts on a black-and-red spandex outfit ("with matching bandana" ) and goes cycling for an hour and a half (road bicycle ). May is up (for the army ) at 7, Yardena and Carmel get up at 7:30, Gilad is flexible (depending on his shift ). Eitan gets back at 7:15, feeds the cats, showers, brings Yardena coffee in bed (instant, flat teaspoon of sugar, one percent milk ), has nothing to drink or eat and at 8 is in the hothouse ("after getting a ride" ). Yardena washes, makes two sandwiches for Carmel and a sandwich for herself, organizes (rouge, perfume - "these days, Noir" ) and leaves at 8. Eitan has breakfast ("a full one" ) at 9:30 at his mother's.

* Lunch: To each his own. Yardena has a sandwich at school or a vegetable broth from a package; Eitan eats at his mom's (gomboc, leczo, rakott krumpli, paprikas nokedli ); Gilad has a sandwich (of dad's ) at work; May eats meat plus two carbs in the base mess hall; Carmel goes to her grandparents' place in Lod after school or has something in a box made by her Sitriya grandmother. Supper, too, is not a together meal ("Everyone for himself" ). Their only family meal is Friday evening.

* TV: Eitan doesn't miss "A Star Is Born" (Israel's "American Idol" ). May likes reality programs; Gilad goes for the Israeli series "Traffic Light" and "24"; Yardena likes science and music programs; Carmel is into "Extreme Makeover."

* Dreams: Eitan - manager of a tropical farm in Barbados; Gilad - computer engineer with NASA; May - a family, four children, moshav; Carmel - Florida; Yardena - New Zealand.

* God: "We are atheists."

* Peace: Eitan and Yardena are for "two states," Gilad agrees but without concessions in Jerusalem, May is skeptical, Carmel is not in the loop.

* Missed opportunities: "Non, je ne regrette rien" - Eitan.

* Happiness quotient (scale of 1-10 ): Eitan - 6-7; Yardena and Carmel - 10; May - 9; Gilad - 8.


Sitriya - Moshav close to Rehovot, founded in 1949 by new immigrants from Romania and Poland, who arrived from the detention camps in Cyprus. Until 1948, a Bedouin tribe resided in the area.