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December 11, 1987 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-12-11

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

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Novel Profiles Pioneers

MAURICE SAMUELSON

A

rarely told chapter in
the founding of Israel
is told in a new novel
published at the outset of
Israel's 40th anniversary
year.
Elon Salmon's Gates of
Hope is set in 19th Century
Palestine, and follows the for-
tunes of a Jewish family —
from the arrival of its
patriarch in 1812 to the fami-
ly's role in the establishment
six decades later of Petach
Tikvah, the Yishuv's first
modern farming community.
A moving, human saga
with a wealth of dramatic and
poignant anecdotes, it is first
and foremost a work of fic-
tion. But it is a good deal
more, since it illuminates a
shadowy chapter of Jewish
history which is usually
overlooked by the chroniclers
of the Zionist movement.
Based for the most part on
the lives of real people, the
story is woven into a tableau
of actual events in Europe
and the Middle East. It shows
how decades before the
emergence of Theodor Herzl
and the earlier "Lovers of
Zion movement" there were
real stirrings of Jewish na-
tional revival in the im-
poverished "old Yishuv" of
Palestine.
One of the book's pro-
tagonists is based on the
founder of Petach Tikvah,
Yoel Moshe Salamon, who
also founded Halevanon, the
first Hebrew newspaper in
Jerusalem; the Bikkur
Cholim health organization;
and Assia, now one of the
world's • leading phar-
maceutical companies.
Author Salmon, 50, one of
Salamon's descendants, has
devoted the past nine years to
researching and writing the
book. "The story of this book
has always been with me,"
said Salmon, a ninth-
generation Israeli who con-
tributes pieces on Middle
East affairs to the London
Economist. "It is my heritage,
my birth certificate. It is not
just the story of my family,
but the story of Israel."
The novel commences with
the arrival in Palestine of
Solomon Zeff, a Lithuanian
Jew, with his wife and young
child. They make their way to
Safed, but disaster compels
them to go to Jerusalem,
where three generations of
their descendants are to lead
the growing Jewish communi-
ty and found Petach Tikvah.
The character of Zeff is bas-
ed ' on the author's first
ancestor to reach Palestine,

Zalman Tsoref, who came
from Lithuania "out of blind
faith," according to Salmon.
Like their counterparts in
the novel, Tsoref, his sons and
grandsons were energetic,
successful people involved in
public life. "They were a force
in the old Yishuv and wanted
to break the old mold so that
it could achieve self-suffi-
ciency," he said. But they
were not socialists, and re-
tained great respect religious
tradition.
The novel ends abruptly in
1898, during Herzl's cele-
brated visit to Jerusalem in
the footsteps of the German
Kaiser.
That was not, however, the
end of the story for the
Salamon family. The author's
father, the late Col. Katriel
Salmon, was close to David
Ben-Gurion, Israel's first
premier. After being serious-
ly wounded in the War of In-
dependence, the colonel
became Israel's first military
attache in London and suc-
ceeded Chaim Herzog in the
same post in Washington. He
died in an auto accident in
1967.
The novelist himself served
Israel as an officer in the
Golani Brigade in the Six-
Day War and as a civil ser-
vant in the Ministry of
Iburism. But his most dur-
able achievement is this epic
story of the forgotten founders
of the Jewish state.

Copyright 1987, JTA, Inc.

Nicaragua Jews
Get Synagogue

New York — The Nicaragu-
an Jewish community in ex-
ile has accepted an offer by
the Sandinista government to
return the nation's only
synagogue, which it con-
fiscated shortly after taking
power in 1979, according to
the Anti-Defamation League
of B'nai B'rith.

U.S. Hears
,Refuseniks'
Testimonies

Washington (JTA) — On the
eve of the mass demonstra-
tion for Soviet Jewry held
here, the U.S. Commission on
Security and Cooperation in
Europe met for more than
three hours last week to
receive testimony from an un-
precedented number of
^former refuseniks.
Many of the commission
members had helped obtain
the release of the witnesses,
who included Natan Sharan-

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