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Malka Rivka Levi

Malka Rivka Levi’s story is one of faith: of people in the path destined for them, of parents in their children, and of course, of a family’s faith in God.

Though she herself was born in Jerusalem, her story begins in South Africa, the country where her parents were raised. Her father grew up in a non-religious Jewish home with parents who infused in him a great love for the Land of Israel and a deep appreciation of anyone who lived there. Her mother was not born Jewish, but Malka Rivka says that as a young girl she had felt a calling to the Holy Land and to the Jewish religion, and at quite a young age she converted to Judaism. The two met in South Africa and shortly after marrying, they chose to make Israel their permanent home.

When she was a girl, Malka Rivka’s family lived in the Nachlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem. Nachlaot is home to an extremely wide range of people of all religious persuasions, backgrounds, ages, and colors, and in particular, it is home to many artists. As Malka Rivka put it – “Nachlaot is an amazing concentration of Israeli and Jerusalem life.”

When Malka Rivka was 12 her parents decided to fulfil their dream of moving to the country. However, being themselves rather out-of-the-box, they didn’t know many places where they could feel comfortable as they did in Nachlaot.

Bat Ayin, a unique settlement in Gush Etzion that had been founded by artists and organic farmers, almost all of whom had not been raised as religious Jews but had come closer to Judaism as adults, seemed like their most natural home. There the residents live with the rhythms of nature and embrace artistic freedom.

“It has the feeling of a village from a different time,” – says Malka Rivka.

“The move to Bat Ayin affected our souls,” – she continues. “It made a huge impact on our family for the good. Much intensity was lifted and we began to enjoy taking long walks together, sitting together gazing at the incredible view- it was very different from our life in the city. Jerusalem, and Nachlaot in particular, is amazing, but Bat Ayin fit and the quiet did us all good.”

Though Malka Rivka, age 27, wanders a bit around Israel and is presently residing in Israel’s North, her base and her art studio are in Bat Ayin and she still calls the settlement home. Seven years ago she began her own clothing business- creating, sewing, and selling handmade clothes of natural fabrics. She also designs and sews wedding gowns.

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