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March 30, 1984 - Image 66

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-03-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

66

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, March 30, 1984

Strong pulp novel with Jewish theme
is written by author Aviva Heilman

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3

There are many novels
written by literary
prescriptions devised to
guarantee healthy purchas-
ing markets. One familiar
formula combines glamor-
ous people, international
settings and varied
amounts of sexual perver-
sity. How many women cut
their teeth on the words of
Harold Robbins or fed their
adolescent fantasies with
Sidney Sheldon's special
blend of the tried and true?
Only their publishers know
. for sure, but with a quick
perusal of past Best Seller
lists, the answer is obvious.
Somebody Please Love
Me, (Doubleday) by Aviva
Hellman, appears at first to
be a novel destined for quick
dismissal by a discerning
reader (The title portends
hysteria.) All the ingre-
dients are there. The
heroine is a high fashion
model; she hides her past;
her marriage is flounder-
ing; her daughter dabbles in
drugs and her best friend is
gay. This hype is all too bad
because Ms. Hellman has
something serious to say,
and she says it well.
These are interesting-and
multifaceted people whose
dynamics richly interplay
like a melody in counter-
point. It is the depth of
character that raises this
novel above the usual
example of the genre that
has come to be known as
"women's fiction."
Somebody Please Love Me
is the story of one women
who, at 37, is forced to con-
front her system of values
and redefine her life. Her
name is Cat Willingham
(nee Catherine Wallens-
tein) and she is a top fashion
model. Her successful
career spirits her through
the glamorous world of the
couturier houses in Paris
and New York.On the sur-
face, Cat appears to possess
everything little girls
dream about: beauty, fame
and intelligence. Cat's
dreams come true because
she works at them. Hers is a
tireless dedication to excel-
lence, of hours of gruelling
effort behind the scenes,
that belie the magic of the
finished product.
Cat is a master of the art
of illusion. Whether she
floats down a runway or
graces the cover of a maga-
zine, she transforms the
garment she wears into a
dream of eternal youth.
At 37, however, age is one
reality that cannot be sus-
pended, even by one so
talented. In Cat's world,
"forever young" is the ideal
and she is too smart to ig-
nore the press of time. Un-
like Pamela Grayson, her
mentor, who self-destructs
on her onw cancerous hostil-
ity and envy of the younger
generation, Cat looks for a
creative solution to the
question, "what next?"
She finds answers when
she probes deep into herself
and rediscovers needs long
defended against and de-

nied. She remembers
"Catherine Wallenstein,"
child of Orthodox Jewish
parents who were able to es-
cape the fires that con-
sumed their relatives in
Europe. She remembers
Brooklyn and her own es-
cape from her Jewishness as
she fed the fires of her ambi-
tion, substituting a career
for her religion:
"Disjointed memories
raced through her mind.
Her father sitting at the
Sabbath table wrapped in
his prayer shawl; the
gleaming candles over
which her mother had said
her Friday night prayers.
The peace and tranquillity
which her childhood had
forced on her at holiday
time and which she re-
sented then but which she
sudden_ly realized she mis-
sed . . .
"The battles with her
father over not wanting to
be different from her
classmates, she now
realized, had riven her an
identity that had sustained
her."

This is a novel of choices
and Cat is the woman who
must choose, but true choice
connotes wisdom. She does
not discover truth by des-
perately groping in the dark
but through the gradual at-
tainment of a clear and fo-
cused vision. A new mar-
riage, with the rich and
powerful Clay Whitefield,
promises Cat love and fi-
nancial security but the
price is the eradication of
her past. When Clay asks
her to convert, the question
he poses, "What makes you
Jewish?" creates an inner
turmoil Cat does not under-
stand.

Learning is painful.
Through an understanding
of the failure of her rela-
tionship with her protege,
the elusive and fragile Me-
gan, Cat rediscovers her
own daughter. Out of the
emotional chaos, she
cleaves truth from fantasy.
Her truth is her identity
as a Jew and her need to
love. "She had wanted to be
loved by her mother and
love her daughter and was
too blind to see that they
were hers . . . She was un-
certain about many things
and one of them was her
struggle with when she was
a mother or a daughter. She
was both. She could be
both."
Cat substitutes "growing
old" for simply growing. She
has found her own immor-
tality through the infinite
and boundless possibilities
of possessing a loving soul.
She is timeless. As a Jew,
she belongs to generations
past and yet to be.
Aviva Hellman, author of
Somebody Please Love Me,
is the wife of Yehuda
Hellman, executive vice
chairman of the -Conference
of Presidents' of Major
American Jewish Organ-
izations, She was born in
the United States but was
educated in New York,
Jerusalem- and London.

Currently, she resides in
New York but maintains a
home in Tel Aviv as well.
Ms. Hellman is the
author of three previous
novels, each narratives of
"strong but vulnerable"
women set against interna-
tional backgrounds. In what

way the author weaves her
own life into her books is
pure speculation, but Aviva
Hellman is as talented, suc-
cessful and beautiful as the
women she creates with
words. The parallels remain
a tantalizing mystery for fu-
ture analysis.

Religious, secular conflicts
are continuing in Israel

BY MOSHE RON
Special to The Jewish News

Tel Aviv — A group of
rabbi's and heads of yeshivot
in Israel have started a
campaign to establish a
religious radio station.
The Rabbi of Gur, Rabbi
Simha Bunim; the Rabbi -of
Bels, Rabbi Jossahar Dov
Rokach; the Sefardi Chief
Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Mor-
dehai Eliahu; Rabbi Shlomo
Averbuch, head of Yeshiva
Kol Torah; Rabbi J. S.
Eliashiv and other religious
functionaries have already
contributed a lot of money
for this purpose.
Now, the signatures of
thousands of religious Jews
are being collected for an
appeal to set up the radio
station, which will broad-
cast religious programs and
events in the rabbinical
courts in Israel and the
countries of the Diaspora.
* * *
In the Ramat Hachayal
quarter in northern Tel
Aviv preparations are made
to enlarge Yeshiva Hidushe
Harim. In this quarter is the
big "Beit Israel" school and
now the cornerstone will be
laid for a special religious
Home for Old People, the
first of its kind in Israel. The
Rabbi of Gur will take part
in the cornerstone laying.
The director of Hidushe
Harim, Rabbi Nahum
Kornweisser, announced
that the school will bear the
name of the fourth rabbi of
the Gur dynasty, "Beit Is-
rael."
Nearby will be built a de-
partment for women and a
special memorial room for
all the Holocaust victims,
and especially for the anni-
hilated Jewish com-
munities in Poland.
It will be -a modern build-
ing and will include a 180
room hotel, a meeting hall,
synagogue and a mikva.
Previously, relations
were poor between the
long-time residents and the
Hasidim of Kiryat
Hayeshiva. The residents
opposed the building of a
Home for the Aged. They
were afraid that more
Hasidim would arrive and
cause conflicts with the
non-religious people in this
area. But lately, good rela-
tions have developed.
* * *
There was a stormy con-
troversy between
Jerusalem Mayor Teddy
Kollek and the inhabitants
of the religious quarter of
Ramot about the' intention
of the municipality to build
a big public swimming pool
in the area. Kolle, argued
that the pool would be built

so that nobody outside
would be able to see men
and women in bathing suits.
The turning point came
after the municipal elec-
tions when the Sefardi
Aguda faction, "Shass,"
joined the coalition in the
Municipal Council. This
faction agreed to build the
pool on condition that it
would be covered by a round
roof.
The agreement stipulated
that the swimming pool
would be closed on Shab-
bath and that twice a week
there would be separate ba-
thing times for men and
women.
There are certain circles
in Israel who criticize
President Chaim Herzog for
intervening in the conflict
between the Haifa -Theater
and religious circles. The
Orthodox have demanded
that a curse against God be
removed from the play Mes-
sias. Herzog had appealed to
the management of the the-
ater to eliminate these
words in order to put an end
to the conflict.
Non-religous circles in Is-
rael argue that the
President should not have
used his prestige in such a
delicate matter, which con-
cerns freedom of art. Kibutz
Hazor in the south of Israel
sent a protest letter to the
President.

* * *

Rabbi Dov Paworski, the
son of Rabbi David
Paworski, one of the chief
gabbaim of the Ponivesh
Yeshivath in Bnei Brek, has
been invited to lecture in
the yeshiva of the new town
of Emanuel in Samaria.
Emanuel is being boycot-
ted by the head' of the
Ponivesh Yeshivah, Rabbi
Eliezer Menahem Shach,
who resigned recently as
one of the two chairmen of
the Council of Torah sages
of Agudat Israel.
Rabbi Shach resigned be-
cause of his conflicts with
the Rabbi of Gur and the
Hasidic Knesset members
of Agudat Israel. He and his
yeshiva are the spiritual
force of opposition against
the Lithuanian Hasidic
movement. Rabbi Shach
maintains that the settle-
ments of Jews in Judea and
Samaria are damaging the
image of Jewry all over the
world.
The yeshiva scholars of
Bnei Brek published a
statement against Rabbi
Dov Paworski lecturing in
Emanuel. They support
Rabbi Shach in opposition
to Jewish settlements in
Judea and Samaria.

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