When an octogenarian Holocaust survivor met a California writer thirty years his junior, an extraordinary book project and relationship came to life.
Editor and writer Julie Gray and Gidon Lev quickly became inseparable Loving Life Buddies and a different book than either imagined began to emerge, weaving memories from the past and the Holocaust and the early years of Israel, together with a new set of adventures the two have together.
Of the approximately 15,000 children imprisoned in the Nazi concentration camp of Terezin, only an estimated 92 survived, Gidon Lev is one of them. He is a man who never gave up on his life, his country or his future and has refused to be defined by what is arguably the darkest, most brutal chapter in human history.
The True Adventures of Gidon Lev asks how we can try to understand the “super object” of the Holocaust. It also reflects on the unvarnished emotionally vulnerable landscape of a Holocaust survivor, who has endured the ultimate tragedy and unwittingly inherited a strange kind of social currency because of it. What is Gidon expected to feel, say or do about the fact and heavy mantel of being a “Holocaust survivor”?
The book follows Gidon and me as we visit his home country of the Czech Republic, including a visit to the Terezin concentration camp, then moves on to the reality of attempting to repatriate then emigrate afterward and finally, to Gidon’s move to Israel as a zealous kibbutznik and his ordinary, yet extraordinary life afterward, up to and including the political situation in Israel today. Short excerpts from Gidon’s writings appear in select portions of the manuscript, to leaven the emotionality and ultimately conjecture of my take with his recollections.
With notable contributors like Yossi Klein Halevi (Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor), Rabbi Susan Silverman (Casting Lots: Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World), journalist Nadene Ghouri (BBC, Al-Jazeera), Michele Chabin (USA Today), and Rachel Biale (Growing Up Below Sea Level: A Kibbutz Childhood, 2020), The True Adventures contextualizes and connects the dots to create an eye-opening and inspirational narrative that examines the impact and relevance of the Holocaust and tries to make sense of the trajectory of modern-day Israel.