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The Hadera House that Shakes

Shakers Just some of the 26,000 salt and pepper sets at the house in Hadera.

Photos by Lydia Aisenberg

The private abode of a former Israeli prison governor is also home to a rather out of the ordinary and space consuming collection, comprising 26,000 sets of salt and pepper shakers.

The movin' and shakin' collection, all neatly arranged on shelves, in glass cupboards and on tables in a number of rooms added on to the Hadera home of Eitan Bar-on, began when he was gifted a small, mischievous faced brass monkey holding two barrel shaped mini salt and pepper shakers.

The primate present gave Bar-on an idea of small gifts for friends and family after his frequent visits abroad, but each time, he kept one set for his own home.Little by little, family and friends began bringing him more condiment sets, either as presents or just offloading unwanted gifts of their own.He has also been awarded a number of small collections of others who no longer wished to keep them.

Nowadays, not only is Bar-on the owner of 26,000 pairs of holey shakers in his Hadera abode, but a further 20,000 are exhibited in a similar museum he has opened in Larnaca, Cyprus, and an application to the Guinness Book of Records is pending.

Every pair of individual shakers is now being photographed and all known details of its past recorded in order to be accepted by Guinness, whose inspectors have already visited the Israeli premises.

All profits from the museum are donated to a charity providing grants to needy students and the extended Bar-on family is extremely involved in the caring for and further development of the Hadera museum which was opened in recent years.Some of the awardees volunteered to assist in the photographing and recording details of the collection for the Guinness project.

Of the thousands of items on display, arranged in groups according to subject such as fruit, flora and fauna, people in national costumes, uniforms and so much more, the choice of which to include in this article just too absolutely mindboggling. The shaker pairs fall into so many different categories apart from those mentioned, ranging from somewhat kitschy to extremely artistic, as well as quirky, rude, kinky and downright crude!

Made from pottery, ceramics, wood, plastic and a host of other materials, there are definitely some real gems amongst them, such as H.R.H. Queen Elizabeth, a few holes in her golden crown for the condiment to pop out of and alongside her majesty, one of her beloved Corgi dogs.I forgot to check which was salt and which was pepper because, as in real life, there was a note asking one not to touch her majesty … or any of the other shakers on display for that matter.

                Shakers for the wedding of Anna and Eddie in 1936, and a pair in the shape of the Queen of England and one of her corgis

 Particularly cute and eye catching was a row of salt and pepper pairs that were just heads but with very distinctive Israeli headgear – the woolen "kova gerev" of the Palmach and "kova tembel" of the Haganah.

A group of elderly Israeli visitors from a veteran kibbutz in northern Israel really took to those small in size but giants in history shakers being as most of that group had worn such head coverings during their early pioneer days when they served in the Palmach or Haganah.

To date, the most veteran set of shakers dates back to the 1700s and most recent additions to the collection were those brought that day by the visitors themselves – two sets of cats and a pair of dancers.

A large table is stacked up with hundreds of varied subject pairs of shakers waiting to be placed on the shelves according to category.As one walks into the room, however, it gives an immediate impression of rush hour on the London Underground or any other place where folks are squashed up together, all facing in the same direction and just wanting to arrive at their destination in one piece.

Shakers created by Jewish detainees in Cyprus

A small set of shakers are in the form of a pair of golden rings sitting on a puffy cushion in a little box, all created in ceramics for the July 1936 wedding of Anne and Eddie, presumably a reminder of the great day and presented to wedding guests.That particular set sits at the feet of a number of pairs of brides and grooms with names, but no dates as with the rings.

Of the so many shakers, one set in particular stood out for this writer.It was not particularly attractive, but heavy with historical content as well as salt and pepper.

Created by Jewish internees in a British detention camp on Cyprus in the 1940's, the few inches high pair of shakers was hand crafted from British Army tin plates, quite possibly under the guidance of Israeli Zionist youth leaders who had joined the detainees in order to organize educational and creative activities whilst they were in captivity – so near and yet so far from their Promised Land.

That pair of shakers, somewhat battered but standing very proud, sit side by side on the edge of a shelf exhibiting other metallic salt and pepper shakers.

They may be the shortest pair of shakers on that particular block but the fact that they were created by those who also eventually helped create the State of Israel definitely made them the tallest of them all. 

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