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September 06, 1985 - Image 96

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1985-09-06

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96 Friday, September 6, 1985 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Bob McKeown

Israeli floral
designer Yossi Gil
won respect at the
Interflora World Cu
in Detroit last month.,

Special to The Jewish News

Interpreter Mira Eisenberg,
right, watches a Yossi Gil
creation take shape.

is hands speak of his
profession. Strong,
brown, expressive,
they are embedded
with soil, the thumbs
hardened and cal-
loused from occa-
sional knife wounds.
They are sculptor's
hands, at ease with
the elements and nature's bounty.
During August, Gil traveled
from Tel Aviv to Detroit as Israel's
representative to compete with ar-
tists from , 26 different countries in
the 1985 Interflora World Cup.
Sponsored by Florist Transworld De-
livery Association (FTD), the Interf-
lora is held every four years. This is
the third time Israel has partici-
Gil spoke to The Jewish News
through Mira Eisenberg, his host
and interpreter.
It was Friday afternoon, the lull
before the contest's Sunday pre-
liminaries. Shifra Gil, Yossi's wife
and design assistant, was in the
Eisenberg kitchen creating a
Jerusalemite rice dish that filled the
house with a pungent, spicy aroma.

OH 45220

Yossie was working in the
basement, amid boxes of wire, bam-
boo, wood, branches and greenery.
Holding his small, sharp Japanese
knife and stainless steel Japanese
pruning scissors, he trimmed a
branch and placed it into a simple
Ikebana, the ancient Japanese
art of floral arrangement, is the core
of Gil's style. His designs are often
strikingly simple and beautiful. The
Eisenberg home was full of his floral
arrangements. On the dining room
table, a solitary white chrysan-
themum, juxtaposed against
sculptured bamboo reeds, sat in its
own reflecting pool, actually a
curved serving dish filled to the
brim with water.
Using everyday materials
"found within an arm's reach" —
seasonal flowers and fruits, and sim-
ple monochromatic containers — Gil
creates visually exciting ar-
rangements that also leave room for
contemplation. He explains, "The
Japanese arrangement speaks to you
esthetically; it appeals to your soul."
How did Gil, a fourth generation
Jerusalemite, learn the art of
Ikebana? "Everything in a person's
life is a coincidence," he answers.
"What put me in the flower business
is the Japanese embassy in Israel."
"Before flowers, I was a sculptor.
I had a small shop of sculpture in
every medium; wood, metal, clay.
But I could not make a living from
this. At the end of each week, I
would bring in lots of flowers to sell
for Shabbat. Israelis love flowers on

their table for Shabbat.
"Soon I tried combining flowe
with my sculptures, so I could sell
few of them too. I would work o
these late at night, after hours.
"My shop was next to the
Japanese embassy. Every night th:
Japanese ambassador would take hi:
dog for a walk and see my lights on.
After a while, he stopped to talk.
"He was interested in floral de-
sign and recognized my talent. He
urged me to send to Japan for mate-
rials on Ikebana. He also sent for an
Ikebana instructor who lived in my
house for 2 1/2 years and taught me
the philosophy and art of Ikebana."
In 1948, Gil opened "Flowers
Gil," his floral business in Tel Aviv.
It has always been a family busi-
ness. Shifra, by profession a regis-
tered nurse, transfered her energies
from nuturing people to caring for
flowers. Their two sons grew up in
the shop. The oldest is now working
full time in the business. The
younger son works part-time while
he finishes school. The Gil's two
grandchildren also contribute their
free time.
Anxious to share his knowledge
and love of flowers, Gil opened a
floral arranging school in 1975. Its
four-month program attracts Israelis
for many different reasons. In one
class, there might be a Tel Aviv
housewife who wants to add beauty
to her home, as well as a kibbutznik
who will return to teach the trade to
other kibbutz members. Gil works
individually with each student ac-

Continued on Page 80

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