The Gilboa Iris
Author: Zahava Englard
Release Date: April 1, 2012
Dara Harrow, daughter of a rocket physicist for the US department of defense, sends her parents into a tailspin of dual-loyalty anxiety when she plans to wed the brooding and mysterious Roni Ben-Ari, an Israeli officer in an elite counter-terrorist unit. Yet Dara’s budding perfect world is shattered when the terror that she thought she left behind in the States catches up to her in Israel with devastating results, and before long realizes she must come to terms with the shocking lie about the one man she trusted most.
The Gilboa Iris is a blazing tale of romance, deceit and international intrigue. Its rich characters and explosive plot take readers from Israel s Gilboa Mountains to the streets of New York, to Germany s Zehlendorf Forest, and back to Israel amid seminal events that rocked the world between 1983 and 2002.
The sadness and loneliness I felt was overpowering. I had thought that a change of scenery might do me some good, but leaving the familiar walls of my secluded existence turned out to be more than I could handle. The emotions that I had kept under a firm restraint were breaking through my not-too-strong facade. I didn't want to break down. I didn't want to cry. This "getting away" was clearly not a good idea. The thought of returning to Sde Dovid, however, was out of the question - at least for today. No doubt, Yaniv and Jenny as well as the others would be watching for my return in order to pounce on me once more with their form of therapeutic intervention. Without any viable alternative in sight, I decided to go down to the beach. I changed into a bathing suit and grabbed my iPod; perhaps I'd feel more in control after a good run.
Just as I was ready to leave my room, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to a bellhop holding a small rectangular box, claiming the package was for me. There was something awfully familiar about the box. I thanked him, closed the door to the room and hesitated before opening it. No one knew I was here. Unless Dov had me followed. I lifted the lid of the box and separated the tissue paper within. The vibrant purple petals of the Gilboa Iris caught my breath. I gasped for air and groped my way to the couch before my knees gave out. There could be only one person who would have given me this, and that person was dead. But the box - it was the same as the one Roni had given me when I left for America after our year together on kibbutz. My hands shook as I turned it over to check for a label I suspected would be there. I was not mistaken. The label was there, clear as day - Gifts by Evaleen. Roni's mother had a small gift shop in the Galilee, not far from Migdal.
I raced to the elevator, pressed the button for the lobby, and headed toward the front desk of the hotel with the box in hand. A man and a woman were on duty. I instinctively opted to speak with the woman. "This package was sent to my room. There wasn't any note. Can you tell me who sent it?"
"Oh yes," her eyes brightened with her recollection. "That was sent by another guest by the name of Roni Ben-Ari." My knees felt once more as if they were going to buckle under me, and I held onto the counter for support. "Mrs. Amrani, are you all right?"
I nodded yes and managed to choke out another question. "Would you happen to know where Mr. Ben-Ari is at the moment?" Her eyes darted right past me. Before she could answer, a voice I never imagined I would ever hear again called out softly, "He's standing right behind you."
MILITARY MOM in ISRAEL:
Got my food processor and mixing bowl at hand...I'm ready. Those Jihadist armies don't know what they're up against!
Come and Get It....Make My Day….
[Leaving behind a daughter in college and a comfortable suburban life in New Jersey, I packed up my two teenage sons and ten year old daughter to move to the Judean hills of Israel in the midst of the 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli war. In 2009, my oldest son joined the army to serve in an artillery unit, and one year later, my second son joined as a paratrooper.]
The other day I received a call from my son, RJ, who is a paratrooper in the 101 battalion of the Israeli Defense Force. He had just finished several days of training in the shetach, (in the field), doing everything that is expected to be done during time of war. He told me that he and his buddy, Avi, who is a lone soldier (meaning that he has no family in Israel) and a regular welcome guest in our home, were daydreaming about my Sabbath cooking while laying in the mud during a night of training in the field. All at once, the pride of a "Yiddishe mamma" popped out. This modern woman who while growing up scorned the stereotype, suddenly found that to be the best darn compliment anyone can get this side of the Mediterranean! Apparently, apparitions of my apple-cranberry kugle were getting them through the long cold night on Israel’s northern border. And for a mom who has boys in the army....nothing, and I mean nothing beats that!
That's right...my apple-cranberry kugle with caramelized brown sugared oatmeal topping, my cholent (a Jewish version of Chile) with just the right amount of plum Chile sauce, my aromatic roast chicken and roast beef that melts in one's mouth was providing strength to my combat son and his buddy in arms. It offered moral fortitude, staying power and endurance where one's endurance has been tested to the limits. Nope, I never thought of myself as a "Yiddishe mamma", but I donned the role like a pair of battle fatigues. I was doing my part. It was clear -Hell! My kugle was the backbone of their moral!
At the end of our short conversation, I felt an urge to run to the kitchen and begin cooking in anticipation of my boy and his army buddy coming home for a short respite one Sabbath in two weeks time. Here in Israel, the frontline is never too far from one’s home. With having two sons in the army at the same time, the kitchen becomes the prep station for getting your boys battle-ready. Indeed, the kitchen became my chamal, the war-strategy room.
Oh for sure, months and months of a soldier's grueling army training, discipline, sleep deprivation, stretching the physical capabilities way past the threshold of the norm, expertise in state-of-the-art high tech warfare is all par for the course, but pshhhh, don't underestimate the power of Ima's (mom’s) homemade cooking. So come and get it....make my day.
About the Author:
A native of New York, Zahava Englard lived in Teaneck, NJ, before moving with her family to Israel in 2006. An outspoken activist in the United States on behalf of Israel, she served as trustee on the executive board of One Israel Fund, and as its executive director. Presently Zahava lives in Israel. Her writing includes Settling for More: From Jersey to Judea, and she lectures in the United States and Israel about her books, Jewish activism, and her passion for Israel’s well-being. Gilboa Iris is her first novel.
The author has generously offered an ebook copy of The Gilboa Iris to one lucky winner! Contest is INTERNATIONAL!