There was a time when every moshav and kibbutz — Israel’s agricultural communities — was surrounded by verdant orange orchards, simple cow sheds and bustling chicken coops, all worked by community members who took turns picking oranges, milking cows and gathering eggs. It’s a scenario that has changed radically, particularly in the moshav movement which shed its farmhouse beginnings for a more upscale kind of pastoral living, turning barns and hen houses into upscale boutiques, sleek stores and organic cafes.
Rishpon, a lush moshav founded in the 1930s is located just north of Herzliya, was one of the first to take advantage of its empty storage sheds and chicken coops, as well as its central location in the country, close to the beach and the outskirts of Tel Aviv. These days, Rishpon homes, known as ‘estates,’ can run upwards of $4 million.
The local shops, natch, offer window-shopping options to match this upper-class set, from high-end outdoor furniture and hot tubs large enough for the entire clan, to stylish duds for the kids, designer clothing for women, funky jewelry and pricey but one-of-a-kind gifts.
- The owners of Hanuta, חנותא — spelled Aramaic style with an ‘aleph’ at the end — say their store’s spelling resulted in an Israeli trend of store names written in the ancient script. This self-described gallery offers all kinds of home gifts, many of which are made in Israel, but other items that are sourced, developed and imported from the Far East, such as woven plastic baskets and groovy lacquered lunchboxes. If you like something, buy it now, as the owners can’t promise you’ll always find the same goods on your next visit, striving as they do to keep things interesting and unexpected.
- Yearning for some appropriately minimalist but comfortable furniture? Try Natura, and even better, follow the signs and visit their outlet store to pick up last year’s collectibles for surprisingly low prices. There are hunk-of-wood tables that seat 15, low, Italian-style sofas and clean cut, Japanese-styled bedroom sets.
- In order to restore the shopping equilibrium, stop at the well-known Goferman Cafe to enjoy their selection of salads and sandwiches while gazing at the restaurant’s own organic garden, complete with Israeli designer-dressed scarecrow. It offers a sense of moshav nostalgia while munching on crispy cucumbers and ripe-red tomatoes in said salad.
- Be wowed by the use of wood, stone and other raw materials at Ku De Ta – as in coup d’etat — where you can furnish the home – inside and out – in accordance with the store’s ecological ethos and feel. Be sure to sit on the soft-sided outdoor furniture, covered with a four-season fabric that resists the elements, always important in the outdoor atmosphere that is Israel.
- Stop in and admire the clean lines and well-constructed pieces available at Maya Negri http://www.mayanegri.com/), a store that also functions as Negri’s studio and an exhibition space for designers and artists-in-development in a project called Art Fusion. The space, a former chicken coop, offers a chance for clothing contemplation of the highest degree, from accessories to outerwear.