Less than a day after they were evacuated from the terror of the Carmel fire, residents of the artists' village in Ein Hod were back home, unable to believe their eyes: Galleries, ornaments and art all completely burnt. In Ze'ev and Naomi Warkovski's case, the fire obliterated their life's work.
The Warkovskis arrived in the village in 1974. At that time Ze'ev collected rare books, which he sold in a store he opened in his backyard. Meanwhile, Naomi sold handmade ceramics.
Over the years Ze'ev collected tens of thousands of used and rare books which he carefully arranged on the store shelves.
Every Sunday he would drive to various markets throughout the country and try to locate new books for his collection. But no more. The fire that penetrated Ein Hod on Friday night destroyed he and his wife's life work within minutes.
Naomi's unique ceramics workshop and Ze'ev's valuable books were completely burnt.
"The sentimental value of the books cannot be estimated by any assessor," Ze'ev noted sadly, adding only, "Other than the fact that the thing that meant most to us burnt down, we are all right."
Ze'ev kept 300 extremely rare books out of the 15 thousand books in his collection on a special shelf. Those 300 books include poetry, first editions and signed copies or personal dedications. "We had Berditchevski manuscripts, Bialik first editions and other treasures" Naomi said.
On Saturday night, when the fire reached the edges of the village the police evacuated most residents by force. Ze'ev believes that the evacuation was a mistake and says that if he had been allowed to stay in the village, he could have prevented the destruction of his books.
"We have a set drill in case of fires. We are the ones who know how to fight forest fires, better than firefighters from the south. Don't forget that we have endured fires in the past. After all, why is Nir Etzion still standing? Because 40 residents refused to be evacuated and protected their homes," he said.
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