“A Tale of Love and Innocence”
Pardes Publishing House, 2014With Hassan’s life fading away before her eyes, Hamama imparts the story of their life together to her granddaughter. “A Tale of Love and Innocence” is a 77-year-long love story that begins in a little village in Yemen. When Hamama first meets her cousin she can’t even begin to imagine what their joint future holds in store. Hassan infects Hamama with his dream to immigrate to Israel, and she embarks on an adventure-filled journey in which she meets her best friend, endangers her life, and discovers her love for Hassan.
The young couple and their friends steal across the border to Aden and board a ship to the Promised Land, where they are greeted by the transit camp at Atlit. But even when they finally settle in the new town of Pardes Hana, their travails are far from over. Alongside the difficulties of parenthood they struggle with the British, austerity, and sometimes each other.
While the book recounts one family’s history, it illuminates part of the world of Yemeni immigrants in Israel through a variety of scents and colors, capturing their beliefs and unique lifestyle. Their traditional world—the village houses made of mud and cow dung, the never-empty well of Rabbi Shalom Shabazi, life under the rule of Imam, and marriage at a very young age—takes a dramatic turn with their arrival in the new land. Their encounter with secular Zionism challenges the immigrants, but never destroys their innocent faith.
Reviews:“Yemeni Jews wrote much about their lives in Yemen, their immigration to the Land of Israel and their absorption there. Most writers were men, who recorded their stories from their own points of view. Gradwohl’s book is unique in that it focuses on a woman’s perspective of these events and their impact on her family—even though it is presented in third person and mediated by the woman’s granddaughter. The integration of the author’s frame narrative with Grandma Hamama’s story is interesting and challenging, and creates a unique sort of genre. Congratulations on writing a book that illuminates both the past and the present!”
-Prof. Bat-Zion Eraqi Klorman (Department of History, Philosophy and Judaic Studies, The Open University of Israel. Director, Center for the Study of Yemeni Jewry Ben-Zvi Institute For The Study Of Jewish Communities In The East. Research focus: Yemeni Jews – history and culture)