My project began about 5 years ago when characters and a storyline crept into my mind and I simply could not shake them off until I started writing the story down. Over the past 5 years, this novel has become a passion of mine and the actual writing itself took approximately 4 years. Over the last year and a half I have been involved in working with a developmental editor and then a copy editor and after a short period of time with a book agent, it began very clear to me that I would have to self-publish this book.
The books targeted audience, in particular, are those with some connection to Israel, be they those of the Jewish faith or not, but since so many of the themes that are explored in the book are universal that I definitely foresee this book holding a wide appeal.
In fact, many of the people who have read the book are not of Jewish faith, nor do they have any direct contact with the Jewish state. But they have reviewed my work positively.
Fundamentally it’s the story of a disadvantaged young man from Los Angeles and his coming of age as a lone soldier in the Israeli army during the late 1960s and early 1970s. This was a period of great ferment both in Israel and the United States and represented a grand transition from the period of the 1960s to what occurred later and resonates even today.
It is also a period of time when I lived in Israel and very familiar with the cultural norms and attitudes of both Israelis and Americans during that period. This is not only a book about the cultural experience in Israel, it is primarily a work that takes a hard look at prejudice and many of its forms and the corrosive effect that it has on those who are prejudice. There is racial prejudice; prejudice between social and financial classes of people; prejudice between Americans to Israelis and vice versa and, between Israelis and Arabs and vice versa.
In this work, people are forced to confront this cancer that lies within our interpersonal relationship with one another.
While the book does contain a fair amount of social commentary, it is above all a love story between Arik and Dahlia, set against external forces that are hell bent on destroying them both whose roots they are unaware of, at least at first, roots that tie their families together in ways that they could not have imagined.
This book also explores the relationship between the Jewish community and the African American community during the late 1960s and again, attitudes that one group has vis a vis the other. It details what is and what is possible. When one looks at fiction books of the Jewish content, there are a great number of books that are Holocaust themed or Israeli themed in general and life in general in Israel. One also finds works on Hasidic Jews and the struggle of Jews in the United States trying to assimilate into the general culture and folktales of eastern European Jews.
To my knowledge, I have never encountered any book of fiction that features modern orthodox Jews who struggle on a daily basis to reconcile strict observance of cultural traditions while at the same time trying to integrate fully into the world without compromise. There are also no works that I know of that look specifically at religious Zionists, those who incorporate devout religious service with a full military commitment in the Israeli army. In general, modern orthodoxy and religious Zionism are conflated into one category and while they share certain similar characteristics and there are people who drift from one camp to the next, they are really quite distinct.
My book the only one to my knowledge that takes a hard look at the world of modern orthodox Jews and religious Zionist Jews during the period immediately following the 6 day war when one saw a great resurgence of both groups. This book holds up a very stark mirror to those who read the book from these groups and is a vivid window into this world by those who do not share this world view and are even antagonistic to it.