Page 124 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 42

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JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
and keeps asking himself where his home is. In the story “Aharei
Ha-Geshem” (After the Rain, 1979), the protagonist, Danziger, is
also separated from his wife and lives in a sort o f limbo. His pres­
ent personal life is indicative of what is going on in the country in
the post-war days, when crime, drugs, and insanity are rampant.
His dream o f bringing back his wife and making a home again
runs parallel to hopes for peace in the country and a better to­
morrow for the entire nation. In other stories, the yearning for
some distant place and time only serves to emphasize the an­
guished uprootedness o f life in the present. Such is the case in the
stories “Kokomo” (in “Rustic Sunset”) and
Eretz Rehokah
(A Dis­
tant Land, 1981). “Kokomo” tells about Boaz and Ruth, both
proselytes who live with their crippled child in hardship and des­
olation in Kokomo, Indiana. Since their conversion to Judaism
they have become estranged from their friends and relatives and
alienated from their native land. The ir only sustenance is their
dream that one day they will go on aliyah to the Holy Land, and
they live in preparation for that great day. They meet with Isra­
elis who have never become acclimated to the United States and
appear to be living, like themselves, in complete alienation, be­
longing neither in Israel nor in the United States. One o f these
Israelis, Yonathan Perah, tries to tell them what actually to expect
in Israel: “. . . you think they want you there? Nonsense. They
laugh at you . . . you feel there lonelier than here . . . you must
throw away the beautiful picture you painted . . .” But this is o f no
avail to Boaz who regards Israel as “the Kingdom o f Heaven” and
continues dream ing about the kibbutz, envisioning palm trees
and tanned people. However, the present is overpowering and in
reality Boaz’ life is sheer agony. His wife is a compulsive
prostitute, his son gets hit and wounded by a speeding car, and
Boaz in Christ-like manner begs forgiveness for all. The story
ends on a note o f expectation implying perhaps that the dream is
unattainable, and that the only Israel one may eventually reach
will probably be somewhere between Boaz’ and Perah’s; reality
thrives on mediocrity.
“A Distant Land” tells about Shuvali, a Tel-Aviv cab driver who
lost a son in the Yom Kippur war and is deeply disillusioned with
the state o f affairs in his country. He dreams o f immigration to
distant New Zealand and sees it as “the last paradise on earth .”
For “there work is fun and people help each o ther and all men
are equal and there are no wars, no crime, no discrimination. . .”