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Bench-pressing a Buick and other Strengths

Ten Tips to Getting Through a Medical Crisis

On May 10, 2014, we entered a long, dark tunnel, after a careless driver rammed head-on into Arik’s car as he was taking his mom home. In the aftermath, we found ourselves clinging to the tunnel walls with every light in the distance presaging another oncoming train. You can read some of the details, in my blog post “Of Almonds and Analgesics.”  Suffice it to say it included several departments at two different hospitals for both Arik and his mom. And since Arik is already a wounded warrior, well, use your imagination to fill in the blanks.

My usual blog is filled with biblical references. This time, I’m keeping it to one: “consider the ant” (Prov. 6:6). When you get to the end of this blog, see how the ant I filmed helped me interpret those words. Wow, did she know a thing or two about bearing a burden.

It’s been 28 months, two surgeries and several crises since the accident and Arik is on the road to recovery. I hope others in our situation, working toward recovery, will find these ten tips helpful. But don’t think we consistently did the things on the list below – most are things we wished we had done, or done better.

I don't know first said this, but it went right on our "encouragement wall" (see below)

I don’t know who first said this, but it went right on our “encouragement wall” (see below)

  1. Vent

Tell everyone who’ll listen what happened – family, neighbors you know and those you don’t, friends near and far. It helps.  One of my friends said I complain all the time, and another one said I don’t complain enough. Both were true. But stoic, silent suffering – definitely out.

 

  1. Connect and Delegate

Reach out for practical help! Among the above mentioned neighbors, friends, family etc., find the experts – especially those with either professional or personal experience – to rely on for advice. And among them find people your beloved patient feels at home with who can provide comfort and/or casseroles, do errands and even spell you for a few hours.

 

  1. You know yourselves best

Do you want visitors? If so, make sure you tell people to come – some won’t know otherwise. I posted on our community Facebook page, and it worked! But you’ll have to be able to set limits. For 18 months or so, Arik was only allowed to be up for two hours a day. That was hard when he was having a good time with friends.  Caregiver: you might have to be the sergeant at arms.

 

  1. Speak up

As a long-time paraplegic, Arik knew he should have been more insistent when asking about external fixation for his broken legs. But it was a short trip from the emergency room to the operating room on the night of the accident, and we weren’t exactly focused. Sure enough, there they were sticking out of his legs the next morning. That led to other complications. The nurse’s cheerful announcement the day after the fixations were installed that he could “get up and sit in a chair today!” was somewhat ironic, as he’s been sitting in a chair (a wheelchair) for 42 years.

 

  1. Acquire your own expertise

We can’t all invent Lorenzo’s Oil. But I would never have found Dr. Moti, the plastic surgeon who cared so skillfully for Arik’s pressure sore and brought him back from quite a dangerous place, if not for Google. And when you find an expert, don’t be afraid to cold-call him/her. Seeking out online support groups is one of the many pieces of good advice given by Constance Gustke in her recent New York Times article, “Love and Burnout” about the risk of caregiver burnout.

 

  1. Bite your tongue

You’re closer to the patient than anyone. Mostly that will put you directly in the line of fire of your patient’s frustration and anger (and him/her in yours). Remember, they don’t mean it. One day, maybe after a long night in the emergency room or after a long wait for the home-care nurse, Arik said to me: “@#$*$#^#&@!.” Well, you can imagine, that was unacceptable, and so I said right back:  “#^%*%**@#^$%~@+!”  What a toxic waste of energy for both of us.

 

  1. Say what you think

That might seem like a contradiction with No. 5, but the boundaries of civility have got to be maintained. Someday he/she will get better, and you don’t want too much to be sorry for. If your beloved patient exceeds those boundaries, tell them. Just try not to say: “#^%*%**@#^$%~@+!”

 

  1. The new normal

At some point around the end of month 14, things began to look particularly bleak for moi, the caregiver-spouse, what with the daily bandaging, a full-time job (thankfully, I was able to  work from home), grandmother stuff, cooking and serving three meals a day to the patient, etc. Even with the help of Lea, the incomparable caregiver the Israeli government provides Arik as a wounded warrior, some days it seemed like too much. Our family doctor referred me for a talk with our community social worker. “This is your new normal. You have to make a new contract,” she said.  And that’s what we did. It doesn’t have to be written out or even spoken. But it does have to be the goal.

 

  1. Baby steps – don’t knock them

On the road to recovery, “small” achievements are so important: On our first Hanukkah after the accident Arik wanted to make latkes and he did! As a writer I know I should use more exciting verbs than “make” and “wanted.” But after spending most of the first 8 months in bed, making latkes is a wonderful achievement. So is building Lego with your granddaughter and a million other little things we take for granted.

Month 7 of recuperation; enjoying everything important in life at that moment.

Month 8 of recuperation; enjoying everything important in life at that moment.

 

  1. Ommm….

As a caregiver stress is a constant companion. Send it packing by doing whatever works for you: prayer, meditation, reading Psalms, exercise, breathe, walk, run, swim, watch NatGeo Wild, the waves or the sunset. This is not pampering; it’s essential for your health; as Gustke pointed out, caregivers can suffer from a weakened immune system and the results can be disastrous. I didn’t really know what whooping cough or pleuritis even were…until I got them. One thing I liked for us to do is focus on the pictures of family and words of love on the encouragement wall I placed opposite Arik’s bed.

Our encouragement wall opposite Arik's bed. Sometimes it helped just to focus on the messages we placed there.

Our encouragement wall opposite Arik’s bed. Sometimes it helped just to focus on the messages we placed there.

  1. Tomorrow

In our situation, where recovery was a matter of months – oops, we thought it was going to be months, now we’re more open-ended in our expectations ­– at the end of the particularly bad days, I try to close the day by sharing with Arik what became one of our most valuable, and empirical, lessons: Tomorrow will be better.

 

 

And now, as promised, below: click on the clip and consider… the ant

Point Taken

A Defiant, Prickly, Holy Land Plant with a Message for Then and Now

 

Let’s start with a riddle for cooks: What biblical plant might you use regularly without knowing it appears in the Bible? If you saw it in a jar, you’d probably recognize it, I tell people when I point it out, for example on a hike up to the David Spring at En Gedi. It thrives among the rock terraces around my Judean Mountains home of Har Adar, in the desert and among the stones in the Western Wall, and makes a perfect end-of-summer botanical tale. The answer is – the caper.

Capers as most people know them best...pickled in a bottle.

Capers as most people know them best…pickled in a bottle.

The caper (Capparis spinosa), appears by name only once in Scripture, in Ecclesiastes 12:5, in a dour reference to old age, when “the caperberry shall fail.” But Rabbi Gamaliel, Paul’s teacher, was otherwise inspired by the caper. Looking at Ezekiel’s vision of messianic times when “trees will put out branches and bear fruit” (Ezek. 17:23), he deduced that “not only would it put out a new branch every day, but new fruit every day as well (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30b). His example? The caper. True, Rabbi G.! The caper bushes I passed on my summer morning walks produced new flowers every day. A single hot summer day is enough to shrivel them, leaving behind a nascent fruit.

A caper bush growing out of a wall in my neighborhood.

A caper bush growing out of a wall in my neighborhood.

The caper bush is also known for its small, mean thorns, the source of one of the plant’s Hebrew names: tzalaf. That brings us to another intriguing connection.  Numbers 27:1–8 tells us about the five brother-less daughters of Zelophahad, who came to Moses asking that they be allowed to inherit land just as sons could. In making their case to Moses, the women mention that their father had “died in his own sins” (Num. 27:1).

Wilting caper flowers

Wilting caper flowers.

What were these? The Bible doesn’t say, but leave it to Rabbi Akiva to fill in the blank. Zelophahad – Tzalaf-khad in Hebrew, he says, means “sharp caper.”  Nogah Hareuveni, founder of Neot Kedumim, the Biblical Landscape Reserve, explained that Rabbi Akiva (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 96b)  believed Zelophahad’s name identified him as the man God ordered put to death for gathering kindling on the Sabbath (Num. 15:32–36). That’s because Rabbi Akiva, a shepherd before his career change, would have spent more than his share of rainy winter days in pastures where dry kindling was hard to come by. But nearby would have been plenty of capers, which thrive  in the dry summer, go bone dry in the winter.

 

The downward thorns that flank each caper leaf appear in an allegory in the ancient Jewish source Genesis Rabba and in various versions in other cultures. They starred in the coded message second-century leader Rabbi Joshua Ben Hananyah gave to his people, to stick to moderation despite growing Roman oppression. He told a story about a lion gagging on a caper stalk, which the king  of beasts cannily persuades a passing crane to extract using its long beak. What was in it for the crane? Suffice it to say that no version of this allegory ends well for the bird.

Sculpture, wolf playing the part of the lion, by Stefan Horota, 1968, in the Berlin's Treptower Park. Wikipedia.

Sculpture, wolf playing the part of the lion, by Stefan Horota, 1968, in Berlin’s Treptower Park. Wikipedia.

My favorite caper image comes from another second-career, second-century sage: the former gladiator Resh Lakish. He said:  “Three are distinguished in strength: Israel among the nations, a dog among the animals, a rooster among the birds, and some say the goat among cattle, and some say even the caper among the trees” (Babylonian Talmud, Beitza 25b).

And from the metaphorical point to literal and back again: May all among us  facing the shallow soil of challenge and adversity these days bloom and thrive through it all, like a caper out of the rock.

Caper fruit and thorns.

Caper fruit and thorns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More reading:

Chana Bracha Siegelbaum http://www.berotbatayin.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/NaturePinhasCapers.pdf

Noga Hareuveni, Trees and Shrubs in our Biblical Heritage. 

 

 

Chanel No. 5 A.D.

By Miriam Feinberg Vamosh

When I brought the young woman I called Rebecca in The Scroll to the Dead Sea oasis of Ein Gedi, I wanted to make her fate spring from the pages. And thanks to archaeologists and historians, I  believe I found the perfect backdrop – the balsam industry.

Balsam was a mysterious ancient plant whose sap exuded from its shrubs “like tears”* and whose scent and salve sold for double its weight in silver**

In a strange twist of history, the plant the ancients knew as commiphora opobalsamum became extinct. But a subspecies, commiphora gileadensis, is now being raised in the Erlich family orchard in the Dead Sea Valley in the hopes of producing the precious substance once again in our region!

Balsam production factory, artist’s rendering (Daily Life at the Time of Jesus, p. 77, courtesy of Palphot).

Balsam production factory, artist’s rendering (Daily Life at the Time of Jesus, p. 77, courtesy of Palphot)

Fascination with balsam goes back millennia, and the discoveries don’t stop. Recently, a two millennia-old water system was unearthed in a new Israel Antiquities Authority excavation of a site first found in the 1960s near Ein Bokek near the Dead Sea.

Balsam production pool at En Bokek (photo: Dr. Tsvika Tsuk, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

Balsam production pool at En Bokek (photo: Dr. Tsvika Tsuk, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

The English Bible translates the Hebrew name – afarsimon – as “balm” (Genesis 37:25). For Jeremiah, afarsimon symbolized hopelessness:  “There is no balm in Gilead.” The opposite message is conveyed in the traditional spiritual “There is a Balm in Gilead.”

Artist’s rendering of what may be a balsam factory at Enot Tsukim on the Dead Sea (courtesy of Dr. Tsvika Tsuk, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

Artist’s rendering of what may be a balsam factory at Enot Tsukim on the Dead Sea (photo courtesy of Dr. Tsvika Tsuk, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

Scent and the City

I recall a story about a man with a sign on his desk that said: “my job is so secret even I don’t know what I’m doing.” The people of Ein Gedi knew what they were doing alright (making balsam products); they just didn’t want anybody else to know. They kept their secret so well that nobody actually does. At Ein Gedi National Park, the mosaic floor of the ancient synagogue has an inscription cursing anyone who revealed “the secret of the town” –   “He whose eyes range through the whole earth and who sees hidden things will set his face on that man and on his seed and will uproot him from under the heavens.”

Inscription on the mosaic floor of the Ein Gedi synagogue containing the “curse of the secret” (photo courtesy of Dr. Tsvika Tsuk, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

Inscription on the mosaic floor of the Ein Gedi synagogue containing the “curse of the secret” (photo courtesy of Dr. Tsvika Tsuk, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

I hope that in The Scroll, I’m able to give readers even a whiff of what I imagine was the ancient aroma’s allure, so powerful that robbers in Sodom could sniff it out in the homes of the wealthy and steal it at night (Talmud, Sanhedrin 109a). As for the plant-to-perfume process, I believe I moved my plot to a peak by showing how some scholars say the sap was made into the costly unguent, and the branches boiled in tubs and mixed with olive oil for a less expensive product.

At Arugot Fort, near Ein Gedi, a fourth-century AD tower dating to the preserved to a height of 18 ft (and probably originally three stories high, with thick with thick walls and a rolling stone to seal the door, was probably a balsam factory. It served as inspiration for scenes in “The Scroll.” (courtesy of Dr. Tsvika Tsuk, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

At Arugot Fort, near Ein Gedi, a fourth-century AD tower preserved to a height of 18 ft (and probably originally three stories high), with thick walls and a rolling stone to seal the door, was probably a balsam factory. It served as inspiration for scenes in The Scroll. (Photo: Dr. Tsvika Tsuk, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)

But balsam in The Scroll is more than a plot device. Just as ancient balsam production began with the “tears” of the sap and ended (hopefully) with “reaping in gladness” – those very words from Psalm 126:5 encapsulate hope, across the generations, in the story I tell.

 

Want to know more? 

“Three Chapters of Balsamon History,” by the Erlich family. www.jerichovalley.com

“A Balsam Factory” in: Daily Life at the Time of Jesus, by Miriam Feinberg Vamosh (Palphot) p. 77.

“The Balm of Gilead.” Biblical Archaeological Review. October 1996, pp. 18–20.

“Balsam Perfume” – the ancient juglet in the Israel Museum. http://www.imj.org.il/exhibitions/2013/Herod/en/balsam.html

Qumran in Context, Yizhar Hirschfeld (Hendrickson 2004) pp. 207–209, 216–220, and see index for many more references to balsam. (The late Prof. Hirschfeld, scientific adviser on some of my books, told me he hoped that original balsam plant material could still be found at Ein Gedi and that some day  a finished product would be produced jointly by all the countries in our region.)

*Josephus, The Jewish War 1, 1, 6.

**Pliny, Natural History 12, 54.

 

 

 

 

 

Review of The Scroll by David Bivin of Jerusalem Perspective

Honored to have The Scroll featured on Jerusalem Perspective.  Subscribers to my website are entitled to a 20% discount on purchase through the publisher. Please contact me and I’ll send you a discount code to insert when purchasing!

A Gripping New Novel about Jews and Christians in First-century Israel

King David Saw it on the Web

Are Your Kids and Grands Afraid of Spiders?  Tell Them What King David Thought about Them

Spiders are not exactly way up there on my list with raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens. But every spring morning I take a walk, I love the sight of their webs glistening with the morning dew on the ornamental junipers like the fairy veils of a different culture. The other day, I began thinking about what the Bible says about them. I hope home-schoolers, grandparents and others will enjoy sharing what I found.

Spider webs 2

Spider webs gracing the ornamental junipers. Har Adar, Passover week 2016. (Miriam Feinberg Vamosh)

Isaiah said evil men “weave the spider’s web” (Isaiah 59:5).  Good image, if we want spiders to continue being the stuff of our nightmares. Sir Walter Scott sure thought so, turning the web into the ultimate liar’s lair in his unforgettable two-liner about tangled webs.

Job 8:14 says if we forget God our “trust shall be a spider’s web,” in other words – fragile. Wait, what? Oh well, without Google and NatGeo TV, how could Job could have known that a given weight of spider silk is as strong as the same weight of steel?

And then comes Proverbs 30:28: “The spider skillfully grasps with its hands, and it is in kings’ palaces.” What do you think, good press for the six-leggers?  Coming after other verses describing creatures “little upon the earth, yet exceedingly wise” (Prov. 30:24), the answer seems obvious. And here’s where knowing Hebrew comes in handy. As I mentioned in my blog entry “Where the Language Meets the Land” sometimes things get lost in translation.  Out of some 52 English translations of this verse, I found that about 28 call the creature a lizard, not a spider!  In Hebrew, the word for lizard is smamit (in modern Hebrew, it refers to a Mediterranean house gecko). Scholars did wonder how a literal lizard turned into a scriptural spider, especially because the usual biblical word for spider is different. Even Rashi weighed in on it (he stuck with “spider” by the way).*

A Mediterranean house gecko. Is this what Proverbs 30:28 meant? (Wikipedia)

A Mediterranean house gecko. Is this what Proverbs 30:28 meant? (Wikipedia)

And now, for the tale I promised you. The much longer and more involved original comes from an early medieval source called “the Alphabet of Ben Sirach.”  The backdrop is En Gedi on the Dead Sea. If you have photos of your own visit to that beautiful oasis, you can show them when you tell the story, which springs from David hiding from Saul in I Samuel 24.

“And it was when David was hiding in a cave from King Saul that God set a spider who spun a web over the opening of the cave and the cave was closed up by the web. [Saul said] surely no one has entered here for if he had entered he would have torn the web apart. And so he went away and did not enter the cave. When David emerged and saw the spider, he kissed him and said: ‘Blessed by your Creator and blessed be you.”**

David's Waterfall, En Gedi (wwwlgoisrael.com)

David’s Waterfall, En Gedi (wwwlgoisrael.com)

In other words, we might say, every creature has its purpose in the great skein, I mean scheme, of things.

multi eyed spider on web clipart

 

*There are several versions of this story. I found this one in Humanism in the Talmud and the Midrash by Samuel Tobias Lachs, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1993.

** Proverbs, The Soncino Books of the Bible: Hebrew Text & English Translation with an Introduction and Commentary, edited by Rabbi Abraham Cohen and revised by Rabbi A. J. Rosenberg (New York : Soncino Press, 1993),  p. 207), quoted on www.kjvtoday.com.

 

Riding the Lion

What was – what is – the siren call of the rebel movement that began at Masada and effectively ended with the Bar Kokhba war, but continues to evolve to this day?

Bar Kokhba the fearsome warrior, by Arthur Scyzk. Courtesy of the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv

Bar Kokhba the fearsome warrior, by Arthur Scyzk (1927). Courtesy of the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv

What would you do if you were there, on the last, catastrophic day of the Roman siege of Masada, with your enemy at your gates? Would you have taken the lives of your family, as commanded by the Jewish rebel leader Elazar, to spare them captivity? And what of the generations that followed? Surely their forebears’ crushing defeat taught them that the sanctity of life outweighed all other considerations. These are some of the questions I explore in my historical novel “The Scroll.” And there they were – the very same, old-new questions that challenged me in “The Scroll” – in a striking new exhibit at the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, “Bar Kokhba: A Historical Memory and the Myth of Heroism.”

The ancient Jewish sages are thunderously silent about Masada, on whose final moments the plot of “The Scroll” takes off on a multi-generational trajectory. And yet today, Masada is one of Israel’s flagship Israeli tourist sites and a UNESCO World Heritage Site to boot.

Aerial view of Masada. Courtesy of the Israel Tourism Ministry, www.goisrael.com

Aerial view of Masada. Courtesy of the Israel Tourism Ministry, www.goisrael.com

In contrast, the leader of the second revolt, some 60 years later, Bar Kosiba, has been a controversial figure, from his day to ours. You might know him better as Bar Kokbha, which means “son of a star” – to Rabbi Akiva he was the messiah himself. But the sages’ consensus about Bar Kokhba is best encapsulated in a Talmudic pun on his name – Bar Koziba – “son of a deceiver.”

And yet as the exhibit shows, as a symbol, Bar Kokhba, like Masada, was transformed over the generations. From the mid-19th century, in the hands of Jewish ideologues, artists, poets and playwrights he morphed into a musclebound, quintessential model of Jewish heroism. An 1840 novel published in Germany by Rabbi Shmuel Meir even depicted him defeating and riding a lion. The establishment of the State of Israel saw that symbol become even more deeply ingrained.

 

 

Archaeological finds from the Bar Kokhba period in Judean Desert caves. Notice the basket at right. Courtesy of the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv

Archaeological finds from the Bar Kokhba period in Judean Desert caves. Notice the basket at right. Courtesy of the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv

View of ther Eretz Irael Museum exhibit. The sculpture of the musclebound Bar Kokhba in the center is by 20th-century sculptor Chanoch Glicenstein. Courtesy Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.

View of ther Eretz Irael Museum exhibit. The sculpture of the musclebound Bar Kokhba in the center is by 20th-century sculptor Chanoch Glicenstein. Courtesy Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like “The Scroll,” the Bar Kokhba exhibit explores the idea that if your hero can ride a lion, the final outcome notwithstanding, words like “victory” and “freedom” take on new meanings.

The exhibit features rare film footage of the moments of discovery of human bones, in the Judean Desert “Cave of Horrors.” According to scholars the remains, carefully placed in woven baskets, were those of Bar Kokhba’s rebels and their families, starved to death by the Romans. But if the rebels all died, who put those skulls and bones in those baskets? That is a question asked – and answered – in “The Scroll.”

Shomer Hatzair Youth Movement Bar Kokhba Troop banner celebrating their hero, painting on silk. Courtesy of the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.

Vintage Shomer Hatzair Youth Movement Bar Kokhba Troop banner celebrating their hero, painting on silk. Courtesy of the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv.

Please visit the Menorah Books website to order your copy of The Scroll, and for a special 20% discount for friends and subscribers, please contact me. Thank you!

A Masada Survivor’s Fate – Told through a Real Archaeological Find

So pleased to share the following article with you about the archaeological find on which my historical novel, The Scroll – recently published in paperback by Menorah Books – is based. The article was first seen on the website Israel 365. 

“Two women and five children.” As a tour guide, I never fail to notice that no matter how tired and sunbaked my group may be at the end of their Masada visit, these five words perk them up.

By that moment I have already shared the story leading up to the deaths of almost 1,000 rebel Jews at Masada in 73 CE. I have already told them that when we want to know what happened on that Judean Desert plateau in the wake of the Roman siege and its last blood-soaked chapter, there’s only the ancient historian Josephus to turn to. When I tell them about the two women and five children Josephus says survived, people always ask me: “What happened to them?” And I have to tell them the truth –Josephus says not one word about their fate.

Aerial view of Masada. Courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism: www.goisrael.com.

Aerial view of Masada. Courtesy of the Israel Ministry of Tourism: www.goisrael.com.

And so I resolved to discover my own answer to the mystery. It came to me because of the only other place where the name of the Masada fortress appears in antiquity: on a scroll – the one that gave my book its name – discovered in a Judean Desert cave in 1951. The content? Terms for the dissolution of the marriage of one Joseph and Miriam. The dateline? Masada.

What was the story behind this couple?

As committed as they were to fighting to the death for the cause of Jewish freedom, why in the world would they become so sidetracked by mere marital discord?

Photo of the actual divorce document on which The Scroll is based. Courtesy of the IAA

Photo of the actual divorce document on which The Scroll is based. Courtesy of the IAA

And then came my “what if?”  What if one of the two women who survived Masada was the Miriam of the divorce document? What if there was another reason that she and Joseph ended their marriage? With trepidation I cold-called Magen Broshi, the former curator of the Israel Museum’s Shrine of the Book, to ask if my idea had merit. “Say anything you want. We have no idea what happened to her,” he said with typical Israeli gruffness.

As I then broadened my research, I learned that the Babylonian Talmud, Ketuboth (9a) states: “Everyone who goes out into the war of the House of David writes for his wife a deed of divorce.” The purpose of so doing, the sages said, was that in case a warrior died, but his death could not be verified, the widow would not be left in limbo – “chained” – as the Hebrew term aguna is rendered in English, unable to move on and affirm life as Jewish law, custom and tradition certainly intended.

I was inspired to write The Scroll because I wanted to discover and share how Miriam of Masada was able to face life despite all the horrors she had seen, turning her back on everything familiar. I wanted to bring to life how the generations that came after her understood her sacrifices and found their own answers, including their response to the hopeless disaster of the Bar Kokhba war. I wanted to infuse readers with the minutia of daily life of the Jews and Christians who peopled first-century Judea, Galilee and beyond, because I believed, as I still do, that in the minutia of their daily lives we can find answers to more than just ancient questions. We can learn life lessons from history that will help us understand the geo-political and religious tensions of today.

Ballistae -- fired at the rebels by the Romans. Miriam Feinberg Vamosh

Ballistae at Masada,  fired at the rebels by the Romans. Miriam Feinberg Vamosh

 

The Scroll – Now in Paperback for the First Time

I’m so pleased to share with you that my novel, The Scroll, has just come out for the first time in a paperback edition, published by Menorah Books in Jerusalem. If you enjoy historical novels and love delving into Jewish and Christian life and lore in the ancient Holy Land, I know you’ll find The Scroll a memorable and powerful read, and discover its message for our times

You can order The Scroll through Menorah Books by going to www.menorah-books.com. I’ll be letting you know when it’s available on Amazon in the weeks ahead. And of course you can still purchase the ebook edition on Amazon.com and other leading sites. Find out more about The Scroll by clicking on the special page dedicated to it right here on my website  and in my recent blog post “Beyond The Dovekeepers.” In particular, I hope other authors out there will enjoy reading Susan Reichert’s article, “On Holy Ground,” published in Southern Writers Magazine a while back, in which I describe the process of writing The Scroll.