I made my way to Amka, a somewhat secluded rural settlement founded by Yemen born Jews. The only approach road leading to the settlement weaves between the hills of the lower part of the Galilee Mountains. Inside the settlement I proceeded towards Carmela’s Sukkah that is also somewhat secluded, as it resides on the far, eastern side of the settlement, in view of the Yehiam Fortress.
Carmela herself is a known figure in the Western Galilee; an icon of Yemenite tradition, song, dance and cookery.
A one-woman show on her Sukkah stage; visited by people from all over the country.
In the courtyard of her house, a large Sukkah was built years ago; its walls made of straw mats, its roof woven from date palm branches and its entire floor covered with carpets. Inside the Sukkah guests can find couches and armchairs on which they can recline. Ceramic receptacles, woven straw baskets, pictures and figurines serve as an appropriate background to Carmela’s performance, and she gives her guests a real “show”!
Eitan, the son of this actress/singer/lecturer/cook, tells me that his mother is also a skilled basket weaver, a kindergarten teacher and a binder of palm fronds. In other words, a woman of valor whose Sukkah is not worth missing. And indeed, in order to comprehend her popularity, one must see the busses filled with travelers making a special effort to reach this remote corner of the rural settlement in order to take part in one of the many activities conducted by this one-woman industry.
Visitors are welcome to come here and participate in a workshop of basket weaving and traditional crafts. Carmela will teach them things they did not know about the date fruit and its powers, while by the way relating to issues of interpersonal relations as well, stories of Yemen and what not… the variety of workshops held at the Sukkah is large and impressive. The place hosts groups consisting of dozens of participants; who are also treated to a traditional Yemenite meal served on large trays. At the end of the meal Carmela will often start performing different world style dances, and tell stories related to women empowerment and independence. When she reaches the “Yemenite Step” stage, visitors cannot hold back and the meeting turns into a dance calling.
Lodging is also available for guests in groups of up to 20 people, including families. Guests are guaranteed cordial hospitality that includes the use of a computer station, a well equipped kitchen, an outdoors grill corner and a comfortable sitting area outside the Sukkah, a variety of breakfast options and plenty of tranquility.