Mourning a Father Lost: A Kibbutz Childhood Remembered

Mourning a Father Lost: A Kibbutz Childhood Remembered

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Mourning a Father Lost: A Kibbutz Childhood Remembered by Avraham Balaban

Returning to the kibbutz of his childhood to attend his father's funeral, Avraham Balaban confronts his buried yet still intensely painful childhood memories. Comparing the kibbutz of today with that of his early years, the author weaves together two interrelated stories: a sensitive artist growing up in the intensely pragmatic world of Kibbutz Huldah and the rise and fall of a grand yet failed social experiment. As he moves through the seven days of sitting shivah for his father, Balaban experiences an expanding cycle of mourning—for self, family, the kibbutz, and Israel itself. With a poet's keen voice, Balaban pens a poignant, frank portrait of the emotional damage wrought by the kibbutz educational system, which separated children from their parents, hoping to establish a new kind of family, a nonbiological family. Indeed, he realizes that he is mourning not the physical death of his father, but the much earlier death of the father-child bond. Only the unwavering love of his remarkable mother rescued him. Readers will see the kibbutz movement, and Israel in general, with new eyes after finishing this book. In the process of unearthing his earliest memories, Balaban meditates on the mechanism of memory and the forces that shape it. Thus, he examines the varied layers—familial, societal, and national—that establish individual identity. During the shivah, he discovers the tremendous power of words in shaping one's world, on the one hand, and their redemptive power on the other.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780742529229
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 11/19/2003
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.47(d)

About the Author

Avraham Balaban is professor of modern Hebrew literature at the University of Florida.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Child of a Dream, Child of a Laboratory Part 2 Ten Opening Data Chapter 3 Broken Skies Chapter 4 Remembering a Lack Chapter 5 A Moment's Silence, Please Chapter 6 What Did You Learn in Kindergarten Today? Chapter 7 Gordonia Hulda Chapter 8 Four Eyes, Two Mouths Chapter 9 Crowding Chapter 10 Cultivators Chapter 11 Death in a Clown's Cap Chapter 12 Observing Hands—Possible Memories: A Note on First-Person Narratives Part 13 Words Chapter 14 Pampered Children—Nehemiah Chapter 15 A Decent Society Chapter 16 Words Chapter 17 A Lost War Chapter 18 A Wet Icicle Chapter 19 What Memory Recalls Chapter 20 Blue Bruises on the Flesh: Openings on Life Chapter 21 Pampered Children—Yossi Chapter 22 Singing and Weeping: Early Training Chapter 23 Pampered Children Chapter 24 Crowding: Hairstyles from Overseas Chapter 25 Pampered Children—Shlomo Chapter 26 Pampered Children: Sex is Little Moments of Love Chapter 27 Pampered Children—Batsheva Chapter 28 Singing and Crying: Homeland Songs Chapter 29 Coffee Chapter 30 A Dream Chapter 31 Parting Part 32 Completions Chapter 33 The Return Home Chapter 34 Early Days Chapter 35 Birth Chapter 36 What Have They Done to You? Chapter 37 A Miss Chapter 38 Laboratory Child, Laboratory Mother Chapter 39 Days of Crisis Chapter 40 Portrait of a Man as a Poet Chapter 41 A Walk: A Place Chapter 42 A Nocturnal Chat Chapter 43 Circles: Children's Stories Chapter 44 A Family Picture Chapter 45 A Will Chapter 46 Completions: Two Possible Stories Chapter 47 Crowding Chapter 48 The Wheel Turns Chapter 49 An Israeli Sorrow Chapter 50 Love Chapter 51 A Miss: A Possible Journey to Bendery Chapter 52 Dry Sobs Chapter 53 Chapter 54

What People are Saying About This

Amia Lieblich

Many stories were written about childhood, motherhood, and parenthood in the early days of the kibbutz movement, but Balaban conveys the collective voice with great talent and new force.

Karni A'm-A'd

Breathtaking. . . . This marvelous literary text weaves together present and past, and original metaphors accompany authentic memories and literary inventiveness.

Eleonora Lev

A top-notch work of literature. . . . Avraham Balaban seeks to express the sorrow of parents who missed parenthood and of children who missed childhood, and does this with talent and an exacting, complex, and most sensitive vision.

Elie Wiesel

An extremely impressive book.

David Patterson

An English translation of a book which has appeared in Hebrew to great critical acclaim and wide appeal. A fascinating work.

Dan Miron

An important and sensitive literary work, written with restraint, wisdom, piercing insight, and impressive narrative and descriptive skill.

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