Monthly Archives: October 2011

FROM JERUSALEM TO BEVERLY HILLS: Memoir of a Palestinian Jew

FROM JERUSALEM TO BEVERLY HILLS: Memoir of a Palestinian Jew by Eitan Gonen
AuthorHouse ISBN 978-1-4520-9294-2 339 PAGES

From the first page, I was captivated by Eitan Gonen’s book FROM JERUSALEM TO BEVERLY HILLS: Memoir of a Palestinian Jew. His parents suffered through the pogroms in the Ukraine and came to Palestine as pioneers. Eitan and his family lived in poverty outside Jerusalem. In 1948 when a “State of Israel” was established, they were forced to flee because Jerusalem was attacked by the Iraqis,the Egyptians and the Transjordan army. They went to Tel Aviv where life was a constant struggle for the family.
Eitan’s father’s work kept him away from home during the week so it became his mother’s responsibility to somehow care for her children with very limited means.
As a student, he was a challenge. He was obviously smart and a quick learner, but doing the required homework was not a high priority for him. His school year escapades were fun to read. His many friends came from different backgrounds and Eitan provides vivid descriptions of them.
He was never afraid of hard work and held an interesting assortment of jobs ranging from construction work to becoming a shepherd on a kibbutz. His description of his experiences when milking sheep are memorable.
After leaving the kibbutz he joined the army and in time became an Air Force pilot and then an instructor. He married the love of his life, Dina, together they build a life- a life that takes them to Ghana, other parts of Africa and to Europe and eventually to America. It was always his mother’s dream to come to America and it had become his dream as well. In California he went to college and earned a Master’s Degree. Also, during this time, Dina’s and Eitan’s first two children were born. After suffering a deep personal tragedy the Gonen family returned to Israel. During this time they had another child. Eitan and a friend go into business together which leads to exposing corruption within the government and the repercussions were astounding and shocking.
After eleven years in Israel he asked Dina to decide-should he try to work for El Al, something she had been against for years, or should they return to California? The family returned to America. Eitan and his friend continue their partnership and were given a contract and they “planned and built the system and tested the components of the fuel system for the Space Shuttle Columbia”. The partnership with his friend eventually dissolved and Eitan enters the world of real estate and found success.
This is a remarkable book written by a remarkable man-one who overcame what others would declare to be insurmountable obstacles. I am glad he decided to share his story and I applaud his resolve.

I received this book free of charge in exchange for a book review,

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THE GRACE OF SILENCE: A FAMILY MEMOIR

THE GRACE OF SILENCE:A FAMILY MEMOIR
AUTHOR: Michele Norris
Vintage ISBN: 978-0-307-47527-5 $14.95

Michele Norris’s book, The Grace of Silence: A Family Memoir, provides insight into the lives of her remarkable family. It has been said that in order to know where one is going one has to know where they came from. Even though the author knew her family well, it is what she didn’t know about them that is the basic foundation of the book. After her grandmother had died, she learns that her grandmother had worked for Quaker Oats as a “traveling Aunt Jemima” during the 1940’s and part of the 1950’s. Norris writes “My grandmother’s work created a complex legacy for her heirs”. It is a legacy worth reading about. After her father’s death she is told that he was shot by a white policeman after he returned home to Birmingham, Alabama after serving in WW II. Her commitment to uncovering answers to her questions about the circumstances, as well as her tenacity, is unmistakable. The quest to complete her family history is filled with meaningful and valuable experiences. Research shows her father’s history is intertwined with the events in Birmingham during the same period. Birmingham’s history is well documented and the facts are appalling. Norris attention to detail is evident in every page.
There are reasons the author’s grandmother and father didn’t tell her everything and their reasons remain their own. However, the search for these reasons led to this: “There is grace in silence, and power to be had from listening to that which, more often than not, was left unsaid”.
I found this to be a moving, powerful and an important book.

I received this book at no charge through Goodreads First Reads.

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