Shoemaker’s Shop

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Written by Jane during her time at Kibbutz Kfar Giladi, circa 1986.

I got it – my prize!

The shoemaker’s shop is mine – I will make it mine. The keys are in my pocket. The place is a dusty mess; I still need a teacher… but the place is mine!

I will make it mine. I succeeded by gentle perseverance. The idea of being the kibbutz shoemaker came to me when it was clear that the Building Planning Department was not interested in me (even though my training made me more than a likely candidate for the job). It wouldn’t do to force myself in where I’m not wanted. Not in a kibbutz.

One of my reasons is simple enough to explain although hard to admit. In my experience of life, the kibbutz is the most sexist environment I’ve ever been in. Why, even my suggestion of becoming a shoemaker to the secretary and work manager brought laughter. The answer to my perplexed expression was: actually, why not, there is a woman doing it in Kibbutz This-or-That.

One day, I pressed my nose against the large window near the metalworking shop and discovered the kind of shop most people find quaint because of the variety of hand tools displayed, or the evident age of the electric machinery, or the dominant brown of old tables, shelves, stools, and wood paneling; or perhaps as well the intimate layout of a contained and clearly-defined work space.

That’s why people always loved bookbindery. There are few real places like these left. The gleam of beige Formica and the efficient storage of modern times have all but destroyed these picturesque and kindly nooks. But not my shoemaker’s shop. Not while it is mine.