My name is Kiffaya Haj, and I’ve been living in lovely Santa Barbara, CA for the last 25 years. I was born and raised in Israel, but in 1995 I made two decisions which would shape the rest of my life: I got married, and moved to Santa Barbara to live with my husband, who is also an Israeli-American.
I am currently a property manager with a vacation rental company, a fun job which allows me to meet and greet a lot of new visitors to Santa Barbara and share advice on how to make the most of their time here.
On a professional level, I attended SB City College for a few years and obtained an Associates Degree in Interior Design. Shortly after getting this degree I had my first daughter, followed two years later by my son, and five years later with my second daughter. I decided to be a stay-at-home mom and delay my career launch for the purpose of actively raising my kids, becoming involved in their education and their school activities–which included a ton of volunteer hours at all my kids’ schools.
Living in Santa Barbara with my husband and three kids is a blessing, even though I still feel homesick for my lovely country. My family, friends, culture, food, and the blissfully warm waters of the Mediterranean will always hold a special place in my heart—no matter how far from home I roam.
I am the co-leader of the first chapter of the west coast Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, created four years ago. I was also a member of the interfaith group “Circle of Women” at Casa de Maria in Santa Barbara for about four years. Its primary focus was promoting peace and helping Israelis and Palestinians who are suffering from the stresses and traumas of living in a war-torn country; we strove to promote unification and healing (Capacitar) between Jewish and Palestinian women in Israel who share the same pain, allowing them to tear down walls and build bridges based on their shared experiences.
In my free time, I make the most of the cool climate here by walking with friends around my scenic neighborhood, collecting shells and sea-glass on the sandy beaches of Santa Barbara, going on family bicycle rides, and more. On happy occasions, you can find the family and I indulging in delicious seafood at Brophy Brothers by the harbor, though we always save room for my infamous desserts. Santa Barbara is our home, and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else—it’s simply perfect!