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A Humble Soul

Batya M. Goldman Author Interview

Batya M. Goldman Author Interview

The Bookbinder is a memoir about your life and includes details about Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri. What was the inspiration that made you want to write a memoir?

Well, Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri passed away in 2006 and since then there had only been one book written in English on the rabbi from the non-Jewish perspective. However, it did not go in-depth into the specific culture of the rabbi’s inside court, the kabbalistic traditions as well as the respect that the “tzaddik” commanded from the different orthodox groups in Israel and abroad. I felt that it was important to portray the rabbi’s more human side, his compassion, his unconditional love for one and all, particularly during their times of distress and need. What better way to do so than to share our personal journey?

Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri features prominently in this book. What were some aspects you felt were important to capture in this book?

Rabbi Kaduri, ztl, had a humble soul. Despite his remarkable memory, wisdom and knowledge he did not proselytize nor did he recruit anyone to his principles or belief. I tried to convey that message as best I could through our personal interactions with him, and those close to him. The rabbi’s ruling on any halachic impasse was not questioned as he was skilled in illuminating difficult passages for other rabbis and leaders to understand. What was important to grasp is that he led a simple life devoid of pomp and glamour. The rabbi’s signature was his peaceful silence during the many religious celebrations around the country. He only spoke to pray and bless – he never made small talk.

This is a very emotional and thought provoking book. What do you hope readers take away from this book?

Well, I think that this personal tale was meant to be shared so that others would understand that miracles occur everyday when there is the smallest seed of faith. Whenever one meets a great mystic of this degree, of course, those miracles become more obvious. The Jewish faith and its traditions are replete with miracle stories of simple people that prayed with nothing more than devotion and hope. One could come away understanding that all faiths and traditions are important insofar as they give man hope in goodness. This is just one story. It just happens to be one that concerned one of the oldest living and renowned kabbalists in the history of modern Israel.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

As briefly mentioned in this book, I am a spiritual counselor and holistic therapist. My fascination with natural healing has led me to study many modalities from various countries for more than twenty years. Yet, I still return to our Jewish traditions. My next book will be about Jewish healing and herbalism.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

“Ha Rav”, Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, OBM (1898-2006) was the most senior kabbalist of the 21st century in Israel. While many believe that his life and work: studying, praying, and counseling the masses was far removed from the everyday man, this perception could not be further from the truth. The Rav was a humble but great sage whose glance commanded the respect and ear of the leading rabbis of his generation. He experienced exile from the country of his birth, Iraq, and witnessed the destruction of holy places of study in Jerusalem. Yet, to anyone privileged to have been in his presence, the tsaddik showed only joy, humility, kindness (chesed) and a deep wisdom unique to his character. The Rav’s contemporaries respected his decisions on questions of the Torah and Talmud and above all, they cherished the Rav’s blessings.This is an intimate portrait of one family’s journey of ten years standing in the shadows of this sage. There have been many righteous (tsaddikim) throughout the ages whose lives were dedicated to teach, guide and console the Jewish nation. Yet, in the memory of the Jewish people, there will only be one Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri.

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That’s a Tricky Question

Sally Forest Author Interview

Sally Forest Author Interview

Choose: Snakes or Ladders follows Mitty who comes up against sexism and classism and must challenge others’ prejudices while fighting her inner demons. What was your inspiration for this provocative novel?

I didn’t have any articulated inspiration for the novel. It started as a short piece and grew seemingly by itself. I thought it was about an innocent young girl in the 50’s. I actually didn’t know that I felt so strongly about class issues and sexism. Nor about sexual safety of young people. My main conscious focus was on her struggle to find a way through the internal and external restrictions. As a former therapist, it has always saddened me that many women, particularly in the 50’s, were denied natural pleasures because of a culture of ignorance and shame around female sexual activity. As well of course, of career advancement.

What I really enjoyed about Mitty’s character is how well developed she was but continued to transform throughout the novel. What were some obstacles you felt were important for Mitty’s character development?

Her main obstacle was the extreme shaming and ignorance of the fictional sect in the novel. Another strong obstacle was Mitty’s lack of anyone who could help her come to some knowledge and understanding. I loved Violet’s attempts to inform her. The struggle is linked to the development, through ups and downs, of her self-worth – another essential ingredient in a life of achievement, pleasure and love.

I think you did a great job of illustrating that female beauty and sexuality can often be a poisoned chalice. Why do you think this is an important, especially with today’s #metoo movement?

I was amused by Mitty’s character as a woman who was beautiful and sexually arousing without her knowing it. And heartened by her innate sensuality. Perhaps if young women were educated properly and allowed to have awareness and acceptance of these factors, they would be less vulnerable in the face of male assertion of power in all ways. A lot of work needs to be done to educate men, particularly in self-awareness.

In the sequel all these themes continue to build strong plot threads, together with some surprising twists in Mitty’s life path.

What life experiences of your own did you put into the novel, if any?

That’s a tricky question. A life experience of teacher and counselor helps to build a wide understanding. Personally, none of the events as depicted happened to me, although fragments of similar occurrences have been combined to build a different fictional history. For example, my much loved grandmother had overcome a restrictive religious background, while still quoting many homilies to me, with a wry smile. Otherwise, sometimes just a few words overheard will trigger a scene. So there is a basic truth in it all.

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Choose: Snakes Or Ladders: A Psychological Coming-of-Age Novel by [Forest, Sally]“Choose: Snakes or Ladders: A Psychological Coming-of-Age Novel” from hot new contemporary fiction author, Sally Forest.

This is “a well-plotted tale of human growth, sexuality, and self-discovery which will be enjoyed by readers of women’s fiction and literary fiction alike.”

Mitty is a young girl brought up in a punitive sect who escapes to a typist job in the city – a step to fulfilling her dreams of being a lady. She is hampered by deep fears of hell and punishment, and utter ignorance of the facts of life.

The 1950’s – sex, drugs and rock and roll, but not in the small towns of Australia. There were lots of jobs, clothes and wealth in the cities but this threatened the values of the past – a culture where men desire and decide, while women love and serve.

Miss Mitty Bedford knew the outside world through Hollywood movies at the local Pictures, only to find in real life that there can be nasties behind smiling, beautiful faces.

A stalker’s attack clashes with her newfound joy in sensual self-discovery inspired by a crush on her boss, and her love for decent, loving, traditional Col. She writhes between shame, repentance and joy. 

Mitty wants a career and respect, but what path must she choose? She needs love, but does she want freedom more?

This emotional and dramatic journey to win trust, love and independence, will keep readers turning the pages, as well as provoking questions that still apply today.

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