Olga is the mother of 6 children. She lives in Tekoa (pronounced T'koa) a beautiful community in the Judean Hills, just south of Jerusalem. Tekoa is part of the area of Judea known as Gush Etzion (Etzion Block). Tekoa like all the communities in Gush Etzion, is located near the historical road called Derech Avot (Path of the Patriarchs) – a road traveled by all of the Jewish patriarchs.
We traveled to Tekoa to meet with Olga, to hear her story and – although we did know it beforehand – to stand in awe by her masterpieces. Olga crafts stunning handmade candles that are bright even before being lit. Olga is truly an artist.
The work that went into creating the engraved candles designed for our Lev Haolam subscribers requires an acute attention to detail and an intuitive spark of creativity. During our interview, we discovered that Olga's passion for candle making came much later in life. "I've always dreamt of being a professional artist," Olga tells us. "I love to paint, I love ceramics. And I searched for a long time for a profession that I could make money from and a profession that I would enjoy working in."
"By chance, I thought about candle making. I searched for as much information that I could find about candle making. And [after researching and studying the art] I began to become more talented at the art of making engraved candles. I became inspired," Olga recalls emphatically. "And I knew that this was the profession for me."
We then asked Olga about the quaint community of Tekoa that she now lives in and how she came to find out about it. "I've been living in Israel for 18 years now and I made Aliyah (immigrated) from Ukraine… I really love yishuvim (small communities in Israel) and I have searched for a long time for a community like this one. And [then] this community appeared to me. I also have [extended] family living here."
Olga went on to tell us, "The people here are very open. We live here like a [big] family. I haven't seen people [that are so warm and open] in any other place. Also in our neighborhood in particular, we live like a family. When I leave my house, I don't feel the need to lock my door. This says something," Olga continued. "[Tekoa] is also a place which is very suitable for raising children. They leave the house without fear, despite the fact that our community is surrounded by many Arabs."
When we asked Olga about her business, she responded by telling us that it has grown. "It's been about 4 years since I began this business. Today, I have come a long way from where I started. I now have a website which has enabled me to sell my products online. I also sell products in Israel – in Jerusalem, Tekoa. Tekoa in particular, I have been selling candles for many years and also candles for Havdalah (a post-Sabbath ceremony)."