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Journey Through Art: From Gentile to ‘Jewish Settler’

Yael Enkin’s search for truth led from Catholicism to Islam to Judaism – and Israel – and to creative wood art.
Born into a good Catholic family, Anita Gentile was raised with strong values, parents who encouraged her to believe in herself and a very creative grandmother.

These factors combined to create a young girl who could not stomach untruths. In her Catholic Sunday School, she tried to discover why they encouraged the children to pray to Jesus and to Mary and found the answers unsatisfying. It was only when she began to read the Bible and was told “Don’t read the whole thing; just do what I tell you,” that her real search began.

After dabbling in other variations of Christianity and finding them lacking, Anita settled on Islam. In Burgundy Italy she began to learn Arabic. She returned to her native Ohio and started university studies, where for the first time, she met a Torah observant Jew. Always curious, she asked a lot of questions. Each element of Judaism which was explained to her made her thirsty to learn more. Something resonated in her soul as she realized that she found what she had been searching for.

Shortly after her conversion, Anita, now Yael, turned down an offer from an Ivy League university in a PhD program and came to Israel to study. “I realized that if I was going to do this scary thing and follow the truth, it had to be all the way, and the Torah’s truth means living in Israel,” she explains.

She married and started on building a family. But funds were tight and she was lonely. So she started an at-home project of reupholstering some used furniture, learning along the way, and discovered that not only did it come out very nicely, but she really enjoyed it. Soon thereafter, Yael and a friend started a business of painted wood items. Still curious, Yael began trying her hand at a scroll saw to shape the wood. Before long she was using a variety of saws, learning on her own, and had created her own line of interactive, creative wood art.


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