This Year in Jerusalem

This Year in Jerusalem

by Mordecai Richler
     
 

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"In 1944, I was aware of three youth groups committed to the compelling idea of an independent Jewish state: Hashomer Hatza'ir (The Young Guard), Young Judaea, and Habonim (The Builders).

Hashomer Hatza'ir was resolutely Marxist. According to intriguing reports I had heard, it was the custom, on their kibbutzim already established in Palestine, for boys

Overview

"In 1944, I was aware of three youth groups committed to the compelling idea of an independent Jewish state: Hashomer Hatza'ir (The Young Guard), Young Judaea, and Habonim (The Builders).

Hashomer Hatza'ir was resolutely Marxist. According to intriguing reports I had heard, it was the custom, on their kibbutzim already established in Palestine, for boys and girls under the age of eighteen to shower together. Hashomer Hatza'ir members in Montreal included a boy I shall call Shloime Schneiderman, a high-school classmate of mine. In 1944, when we were still in eighth grade, Schloime enjoyed a brief celebrity after his photo appeared on the front page of the Montreal Herald. Following a two-cent rise in the price of chocolate bars, he had been a leader in a demonstration, holding high a placard that read: down with the 7cents chocolate bar. Hashomer Hatza'ir members wore uniforms at their meetings: blue shirts and neckerchiefs. "They had real court martials," wrote Marion Magid in a memoir about her days in Habonim in the Bronx in the early fifties, "group analysis, the girls were not allowed to wear lipstick." Whereas, in my experience, the sweetly scented girls who belonged to Young Judaea favored pearls and cashmere twinsets. They lived on leafy streets in the suburb of Outremont, in detached cottages that had heated towel racks, basement playrooms, and a plaque hanging on the wall behind the wet bar testifying to the number of trees their parents had paid to have planted in Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel.

I joined Habonim — the youth group of a Zionist political party, rooted in socialist doctrine — shortly after my bar mitzvah, during my first year at Baron Byng High School. I had been recruited by a Room 41 classmate whom I shall call Jerry Greenfeld..."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Richler's sharply observed memoir-a yeasty mix of travel, reminiscence, history and political commentary-charts his odyssey from the activist Zionism of his youth in Montreal to his current belief that Israel is ``the legitimate home of two peoples'' and that the Israeli Jews' displacement and dispossession of native Palestinians was not justified. The book's centerpiece, Richler's 1992 trip to Israel amid rioting in Gaza in support of a hunger strike by more than 3000 Palestinian prisoners, culminates with a visit to a Palestinian refugee camp. There he interviews a woman whose son, a stone-throwing protester, was arrested and tortured by Israelis and, after his release, shot to death by Israeli soldiers. Novelist and screenwriter Richler also visits struggling kibbutzim and traces the history of the kibbutz movement. On the 1993 peace accord, he predicts that if the Likud party returns to power soon, the Palestinians will get no more than the Gaza Strip and Jericho and can forget about statehood. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In this predominately autobiographical work, novelist Richler (Solomon Gursky Was Here, LJ 4/1/94) focuses on his youth in Montreal in the Forties and two visits to Israel. Rejecting his Orthodox Jewish upbringing, he passionately embraced Zionism in his early teens and became an active member of the Habonim. By his early adulthood his ardor had cooled, and he settled in London. He disassociated himself completely from things Jewish, relating an incident from the Fifties when he invited a friend to sample Jewish cuisine in Paris-only to find that the restaurant was closed for Yom Kippur. His first trip to the Jewish state, in 1962, was prompted by a journalism assignment. And he didn't return until 30 years later-again on a subsidized mission. There is no indication that in the intervening years he was interested in Middle East affairs. During both trips he sought out left-wing spokesmen, so his fervent espousal of the Arab Palestinian cause appears vacuous. Not recommended.-Carol R. Glatt, VA Medical Ctr., Philadelphia

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780394281247
Publisher:
Random House of Canada, Limited
Publication date:
09/05/1995
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.79(d)

Meet the Author

Mordecai Richler is the author of ten successful novels-including Barney's Version (1997), Solomon Gursky Was Here (1989), Cocksure (1968) and The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959)-as well as numerous screenplays, essays, children's books and several works of non-fiction. His most recent book is On Snooker (July 28th, 2001). He is the recipient of dozens of literary awards, among them two Governor General's Awards, The Giller Prize and The Commonwealth Writers Prize. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2001, only several months before his death on July 3rd, 2001.

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