April 2018


Letters from ElsewhereToday I want to welcome a friend to the blog. I know Sarah because she’s a Jewish mother, who acts in all ways as a Jewish mother should. I also know her because I’ve read the book she comes from. It’s a sweet little story that we read and critiqued in my writing group, and it’s written by Henry Tobias.

My Dearest Regan,

When Jonny first told me about you, even though your first meeting hadn’t gone too well I felt his excitement. After all, I’m a Jewish mother and you sounded so ideal. But, as he told me more, I began to have reservations.

Your name! What Jewish family names their daughter after a character in a Shakespeare tragedy? Rachel, Rebecca, I know, but Regan?

When I first met you, I was enchanted by your beauty. You weren’t a classic beauty, not cover-girl pretty, but I looked into your face and saw your charm, the loveliness that Jonny had seen. Your soul glowed from inside your being and warmed Jonny’s heart.

When I learned of your problems, I was worried. But who doesn’t have problems? By that time I had seen how happy you made Jonny.

Regan, welcome to the family. It may be cliché but you’re the daughter we never had and both Dad and I love you like our own.

May you and Jonny live long, happy lives, and let’s not forget the grandchildren I want.

                                                                        Love,

                                                                            Sarah.

If you want to know about those problems Sarah hinted at, you’ll have to read the story.

Regan - a Love StoryAbout Regan – a Love Story

A touching novella about overcoming adversity, young love, the quest for spiritual fulfilment and never-ending love. The narrator remembers the 1970s and his one and only love. Longing is tinged with humour and pathos. The story will make you laugh and cry. Taking place across two countries, the characters and situations are real. A story which could be played out again today across the globe.

Regan – a Love Story is available from Smashwords, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

About Henry Tobias

HenryTobiasHenry Tobias was born in London, England, and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa where he trained as a pharmacist. As a young boy he was a member of Zionist Youth Movements in South Africa – one of the factors which influenced his decision to live in Israel. The other influence was The Holocaust – the murder of some SIX million Jews by the Nazis and their accomplices, which included citizens of many of the nations across Europe. He has a deep love of reading, especially history, particularly of World War II, The Holocaust including The Kindertransport and Jewish history throughout the ages. Some of his favourite authors are Richard Overy, Bernard Lewis and John Toland. Now retired he writes and edits. He lives in Israel with his wife of 44 years. He has three adult children and so far one beautiful granddaughter. He has so far published one anthology of eclectic short stories, ‘Just for Fun’ and is currently working on his second book, an historical novel of World War II.

Advertisements

Which forty years am I referring to in my title?

The Children of Israel spent forty years wandering in the desert before they came to the Promised Land. (Some say that’s because they got lost, which in turn is because men are always too proud to ask for directions.) Some of the Israelites gave up hope of ever arriving and wished they’d stayed in Egypt rather than following Moses out and across the Red Sea as the waves parted. Yet they reached their destination in the end and lived happily ever after… well, almost. We’ve just celebrated their escape from Egypt as we do each year on Seder night – the first night of Passover.

But that’s not the forty years I meant.

Alan Bennett’s first West End play was called Forty years On.

No, not that either.

WeddingRingThis is it: Forty years ago, David Drori placed this ring on my finger and we’ve been together ever since… he and I, that is. The ring and I, too, but that’s less important.

When exactly did that happen? This is where things get complicated. The date we remember is 11th April. In fact it’s more than what we remember; it’s the actual date. But is that the date we should be celebrating?

David and Miriam, 1978

I didn’t really colour my hair for the wedding. The scanning process changed its colour.

One year, when we were both working in the same office and mentioned it was our anniversary, someone remarked, “This is why you should celebrate the Hebrew date and not the Gregorian date.”

We probably looked confused and she added, “You didn’t get married after Pesach (Passover) did you?”

The asimon dropped. (That’s the literal translation of the Hebrew expression. An asimon was a telephone token, used in public phones instead of coins, probably because of rampant inflation at that time.) No, of course we didn’t. Jews don’t get married from the beginning of Passover for at least thirty-three days (depending on their branch of Judaism) because of the Omer, which is like Lent, I think. But as Jewish festivals take place according to the Hebrew calendar, they vary according to the Gregorian calendar. In 1978, 11th April fell more than a week before Passover. Most years, Passover begins before it.

How does the Hebrew calendar work? A year usually has twelve months, the names of which I learned to recite at the age of five and still remember. Every so often, according to a calculation I don’t remember, there’s a leap year during which a whole month is added.

David has no trouble remembering the Hebrew date of his birthday. He was born on the eve of Passover and was pleased to discover that this year his Gregorian and Hebrew birthdays coincided.

The modern State of Israel mostly works according to the Gregorian calendar. Things would get confusing if we didn’t. And that’s why we don’t remember the date of our wedding according to the Hebrew calendar, although this year it was probably at around the time we celebrated it with a meal in Petersham Nurseries, Richmond Park, UK, before we left for another trudge through the snow.

Petersham Nurseries - Richmond Park

One thing I can be sure of: There will be no snow when we celebrate again, in Jerusalem, on 11th April.