“A Tale of Love and Innocence”, Pardes Publishing House, 2014
With 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.
Sarit Gradwohl, a native of Pardes Hana, lovingly tells the tale of Hassan and Hamama, and intertwines her grandparents’ personal story and the histories of Yemeni and Israeli Jews with her own imagination.