Spinning Doors

My sister and I were born to the same family a few years apart. We both grew up in the same environment, studied similar subjects, and at one point even dated two guys who were friends. Later, my sister got married, moved to the Shomron, and had three adorable nieces for me. I, on the other hand, decided to change direction at a certain point.

I realized that the path I was desperately trying to fit into just wasn’t right for me. So, I left my job at the Child Development Center and the apartment I lived in in Jerusalem and moved to Tel Aviv. I enrolled in interior design studies and simultaneously took an air hostess course with El Al so I could work in a job that would allow me to go back to school.

But the more significant change was leaving the religious lifestyle and the strict observance of mitzvot. After 25 years, nothing was more emotionally stirring than driving for the first time on Shabbat, and nothing felt stranger than accidentally eating shrimp or wearing a sleeveless top.

In the early years, I defined myself mainly by negation. I’m no longer observant, I’m no longer part of the religious community, etc. Over time, I became less of a “former” and more of discovering who I am. Developing judgment, deciding for myself what suits me and what I believe is right. Occasionally making mistakes and wandering… but mostly understanding that my conscience is my sole responsibility.

The process of designing my sister’s house was long and drawn out. Two years during which, beyond all the plans and choices, I also had the opportunity to peek into the ‘sliding doors’ of my life. To that lifestyle that was familiar to me and suddenly became a bit foreign. To the landscapes, the people, and the language I once spoke and now understand a little differently.

So beyond the amusement of imagining what if I had stayed (maybe a head covering would have been a successful solution to a bad hair day), there’s no doubt that with everything we have in common, I also see things differently from so many perspectives. This is essentially my secular-religious experience: being in an endless discussion between who I was and who I am now, seeing things on multiple levels.

Sometimes I feel like I pay a price for being who I am. Occasionally I fantasize about a friction-free reality, how simple life could be without _____ fill in the blank: Shabbat / kosher / politics… This complexity doesn’t make life easier, but it makes them more interesting, and honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else, it has already become part of my identity.

In design, too, I always try not to leave things on one level. A rustic house doesn’t have to follow the clear formula of a cream-colored kitchen, Belgian profile in cream, and bricks… well, you know: in cream. It’s possible to combine ethnic elements, add some graphic motifs and light colors, the result will only be richer if we allow ourselves to open up to a bit of fusion.

We can continue to strive for harmony and connection: to the stunning view from every window, to the Shabbat table that hosts friends weekly, and to the active kitchen bustling with family sounds. But if we manage to keep an open dialogue, there’s a chance that good ideas will reach different places and bring refreshing innovation.

Thanks to architect [Asaf Katz](https://www.facebook.com/pg/arckatz/about/) who enabled this mutual influence from the planning stage, and of course to photographer [Maya Havkin](https://mayahavkin.com/) who is a fusion of joy, kindness, and much talent. And a final thanks to you for reading, responding, and moving me greatly. Wishing us all a wonderful year!