Two Books for Yom HaZikaron

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Pumpkin Flowers 

On Yom HaZikaron, I wanted to share with you about two remarkable books that I read last year. Today is the ideal time to start reading either or both of these.

Pumpkin Flowers by Matti Friedman

I read Pumpkin Flowers last year, shortly after it came out. It was achingly beautiful — a powerful, painful book of reckoning about the experience of IDF soldiers in Southern Lebanon. An award-winning journalist, Friedman combines reporting with memoir-writing to capture the gut-wrenching contradictions of war — the mania and the mundanity. My husband was one of the Israeli soldiers who served in Lebanon, and while his story was not one told in this book, it easily could have been. Lebanon shaped his life, even as it took so many others. For me, this book was chillingly personal; but even if you didn’t know and love any of the chayalim, it is still a must-read.

Miriam’s Song by Miriam Peretz

If you want to understand better what it is to live in Israel, to be a mother of a combat soldier, and to experience the unimaginable loss that makes every day a Yom HaZikaron, I highly recommend reading Miriam’s Song. This poignant, first-person story is about an Israeli woman who lost two of her sons to war. As heart-breaking as that sounds — and it is — Miriam’s Story is also surprisingly hopeful. Even optimistic. It is also beyond a personal memoir, as the history, growth and gifts of the nation of Israel are woven throughout every memory she shares. You can read my full review of Miriam’s Song here.

What are your favorite books about Israel? Please share your recommendations.

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