This blog was featured on 05/28/2018
Writing the Story that Broke Your Heart
Contributor

When I left the land of Israel, I left with a broken heart. I had fallen in love with the land, with the people who were kind, curious (busy-bodies, really!) and vibrant, and two Israelis, one a charming  but dangerous enigma and one unable to commit despite our deep connection.

When I read the pdf proof of my book, Catch a Dream, published by Bookbaby this April, I realized how much I had poured out my heart onto the page. Not only in the task of writing, as most writers pour out their hearts onto the page, but in reliving the intense impact of living in Israel. I went there as an idealistic pilgrim and the modern political situation just tore me up. "A boy holds a gun where once he held sacred text," I wrote after participating in a bar mitzvah celebration at the Western Wall.

I believed in the resurrection of the Jewish nation based on the ideals of justice, mercy, and care of the way-farer, but being a way-farer was a mixed bag: the individuals I met were sweet and generous and helpful, just as crack-downs on the Palestinian people by the militia intensified.

And yet, I loved the feeling of living in a state of being awake, alert and aware. Taking nothing for granted. A strong core of family, of comrades, of connections. I loved the gentle hills of the Galilee and the ancient mood of Safat. I felt sanctified by the golden light of Jerusalem, the light of celestial awe, as well as soured by being propositioned by her male citizens or ignored by the strictly religious. Such a clamor of voices and a mix of beliefs and a potential for making a vision of brotherhood come true! But instead, vengeance, fear, strikes and suicide bombs, check points and arrests, rubber bullets, rocks thrown, tires torched, house demolitions, and no end in sight.

Would I go back? I have been afraid that if I went back, I would be disappointed by the changes that have occurred since I left. But I am sure I would fall in love all over again. Just like opening that first box of books with bated breath. Would I be disappointed or thrilled? The books were gorgeous and filled with my memories--and also parts made up from my imagination.

To tell you the truth, I am scared to death to read my reviews. I didn't write Catch a Dream in a traditional way. It doesn't have a plot with cliff hangers unless you really are invested in Lily's desire to stay in Israel. There is a lot of description because it is a love story with the land as well as the people who live within its borders. It is a critique of the constant violence without exploring the complicated political history. It is told from the perspective of a woman who suffers from PDST and longs to be set free to love, to belong. An idealistic dream honed by reality as she learns to stand up for herself. 

I am happy to discuss my writing process with you during a personal visit to your book club or writer's group or via Skype but I am not an expert on Israeli-Palestinian political affairs. I am an expert on the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea and how it changed my menstrual cycle and the birthday cake that caught on fire using re-ignitable candles. On fruits and vegetables so fresh, that when I returned to the states I could hardly bear to eat a tomato or peach not freshly-picked. Or the way the stores stopped selling bread, cakes and cookies, and cordoned off any products considered treif, that is containing yeast or having the potential for rising, (including some imports that surprised me) during Passover. 

If you have ever dreamed of going to Israel, my book will give you a glimpse of a complex society and whet your appetite to see it for yourself. Catch a Dream is my love letter to a land that both was the beginning of my healing but also broke my heart.

Writing is cathartic. I began by writing a memoir culled from the journals I kept and then decided to change it into a novel. I wrote because I had to tell the story, because my life was altered deeply and irrevocably.  I ask: How can you write when your heart is overwhelmed with emotion? And I answer: How can you not?

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