When Shai Met Liz
What makes a relationship work? For Valentine’s Day, we asked Liz and Shai, twenty years into a love story and still going strong, for their secret.
Liz: We’re very different but we complement and complete each other. I’m an actress, Shai’s a chef. I’m a staunch vegetarian, he loves to cook twelve different types of meat. I’m a city girl, he’s a boy from the Kibbutz. When he wants to do something romantic, he cooks me a surprise meal. When I want to surprise him, I write him a poem. Shai speaks through food. I love stories and words.
Shai: She’s very spiritual ….
Liz: And he’s very grounded. It’s all about finding the right balance of unity and separation. I was in India, studying yoga. I told my teacher that I’m in love with this wonderful man but he eats meat. He told me that I chose a noble man, to focus on that, and not on what he eats. He was right.
Shai: We have a rule. I do the short stories …
Liz: And I do the long.
Liz and Shai’s rom-com started when Liz ventured out of her comfort zone and into a gym.
Liz: It was like a different planet full of people with bulging muscles and tight shirts. I tried to run on the treadmill but even that was difficult as I got my earphones all caught up. Then a nice man helped me. It was Shai. He was a gym trainer and manager then. I joined his running class. It was a bad time in my life to meet someone.
Shai: It was the perfect time for me to meet someone. She was beautiful, with her big blue eyes. I was getting divorced, I was confused. She completed the picture for me.
Their romance has brought them to Merom Golan, a kibbutz 1171 meters above sea-level near the Syrian border.
Shai: The Golan Heights are special. I like living in nature, the green of the winter, the yellow of the summer. The coolness. My mum was from Norway.
Liz: At first I was worried. I thought the closest theater would be in south Syria, in Damascus. But there is community here, a goodness, humanity.
Here in the Golan, they welcome people into their home for food, hospitality, and stories.
Shai: I love to cook for people, to see them happy, laughing. I cook meats in the smoker, make sausages, lots of salads and vegetarian options. Everything is homemade except the mustard. Our guests have been running around seeing the country. We give them an island of peace so that they can take their shoes off, eat great food, talk, feel at home.
Liz: I’m the brains and the actress behind the cook. I share stories with our visitors. But I also really listen to them, open up their stories and hearts. It’s amazing the stories people have. We had a family here recently. I talked about my love with Shai. Then the parents started talking about how they met. Their teenage kids looked on in amazement, saying “we never knew that.”
Liz: Living and working together can be difficult. We’re around knives all the time so we better keep the relationship strong! The key is the name we gave to our business – Cooking: A Love Story. We’re doing what we love. Shai loves cooking. I love stories. When we’re feeling pressure getting ready for our guests, our daughter tells us “don’t forget that this is a love story.” It reminds us why we’re in the kitchen, why we’re in the Golan, why we’re here together. It’s about love at lots of different levels.