We wanted to go on a trip somewhere different, maybe Greece or Turkey, and thus we found ourselves high up on the mountain, in the middle of the Galilean Druze town of Yarka. We were invited to take a seat in the open yard in view of the mountains and the ocean, around a table heaped with Druze delicacies. Above us, a vine pergola, to our side an ornamental garden with gurgling water falls, and around us the entire Shchada family running around, carrying trays piled with salads, stuffed vegetables, meat and traditional Druze dishes.
On one side, above a log bonfire stood a large pot in which meat had been stewing for several hours. In another corner, sat one of the family’s daughters and placed nut-filled dough triangles in bubbling oil, to be served sprinkled with syrup later on that night. The aroma of the ripe figs hanging from the tree was all around us and we felt like tourist in a hidden Druze country that we had never visited before, even though it dwells just off of the main road of the Western Galilee that we have been visiting for so many years.
Just like us, many groups and families of travelers wishing to get a taste of authentic Druze hospitality, given wholeheartedly, arrive at this spacious courtyard. In the hours that we spent here, we were not only generously provided with food and drink, but were also given a comprehensive tour of Naif’s house and learnt about the history of the family going back many centuries.
A large part of Naif’s work is the workshops he manages. For instance, painting with colorful sand in glass bottles; suitable for children ages four and older; the work is done using special funnels. In another workshop, children glue colorful sand to jute surfaces spread with glue, creating pictures drawn in sand. Yet another workshop recycles old tires using them for mosaic works. And there are other workshops such as: creating huge soap bubbles, carving fruit, vegetables and shells, writing up to 17 letters on a grain of rice and more. Naif’s wife, Yasmin, conducts workshops dealing with Druze health food, face painting, play-dough and clay. Naif produces events including a team of tricksters, crutch-walkers, drummers and living statues.
At the end of our visit, our host surprised us as he dressed up in traditional Druze custom, and then whispered: “just you wait…soon I will surprise everyone with a new workshop in which I paint with colors on water and transfer the drawings onto paper.”
Thus, there is something to look forward to!