This Year in Jerusalem, by Mordechai Richler
Mordechai Richler first came to prominence by virtue of two novels set among the Jews of Montreal. The first, Son of a Smaller Hero (1959), recounts the struggle of its hero, Noah Adler, to free himself from the prejudices and limitations of the Jewish community; the second, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1959), later made into a movie, is a rags-to-riches story, formulaic but also satiric (it was reviled in some parts of the Jewish community). Since then Richler has written seven more novels, numerous screenplays, and, in 1992, a book (Oh Canada! Oh Quebec! Requiem for a Divided Country) severely critical of the Quebec separatist movement.
As we learn from his latest book, which is in part a memoir, Richler grew up in a hasidic family in Montreal. He attended a traditional religious school but also became involved in the Labor Zionist youth movement called Habonim, not out of strong commitment to Zionism but, as he freely admits, in order to spite his pious grandfather and lay hands on girls broken loose from the bonds of piety. But those “hallelujah days of Habonim” (as he calls them here) were also a time of moral certitude, when he still believed that Jews deserved a state of their own and that the best young people would leave the wasteland of the Diaspora, where Jews were destined for assimilation, and make their way to the land of Israel as pioneers.
About the Author