Cover story ... the two books by the same author launched on the same day When Katherine Rubin married, her surname became Shabat. She changed her first name to Kaila officially a few years ago

I Missed the Spring

Amazon paperback $10; Kindle $5

In the Midst of Eden
www.gvanim-books.com: NIS 64
Both publications can be bought
directly from Kaila Shabat at NIS 60
each including postage
email: kaila.shabat@gmail.com

On the 47th anniversary of my aliyah, 18th July 2017, at Mercaz Habama, Ganei Tikva, I launched my two new books.

The first, a memoir, I Missed the Spring, depicts a roller-coaster ride through my bipolar life; a struggle for joy in a life shadowed by a traumatic past. It took its title from one of my first poems, written in 1976.

The second book, In the Midst of Eden, is a bilingual collection of poetry, written originally in English and translated into Hebrew. One of the poems about my early years begins: ‘Mingled delight and dread/ tint my childhood garden/ and color my life.’

Separated from my parents at the age of three, I suffered extensive trauma. Years later, I recalled only the surrounding garden: a veritable paradise, a land of enchantment for a small child. In this book of poetry, I envision a return to the original unsullied Garden of Eden: a new era of Universal Peace and Love.

The launch was a festive event with more than 80 friends and colleagues joining me to inaugurate the new books. Gil Levine, multi-media virtuoso, prepared an impressive video to accompany the proceedings.

In my opening remarks, I told the story of my romance with Israel.  As a volunteer during the Six-Day War, I arrived in Jerusalem on the day of its reunification. On kibbutz where I worked, I met the love of my life.  We were married in London, and soon after decided to return permanently to Israel.  However, I became deeply depressed at leaving my family. and began my life in the new land both physically and mentally unwell.

It took many years to accept that the root of my illness was in my early childhood. Every visit of my parents to see their grand-children, reopened the scar of separation and released the demons of my early days. After one such breakdown, my mother wrote to me in one of her beautiful letters:

Look to the future and come out into the sunshine.  We eagerly look forward to poems of joy and laughter. Be happy, my darling, as I know well you can be.

Reading from her letter at my special event, I felt, somehow, that my mother was there with me in spirit.

I sang ‘Return Again,’ by the Rav Shlomo Carlebach and my friend and voice coach, Toby-Boni Shamir accompanied me on her guitar.

Susan Olsburgh, President of VOICES, Israel Group of Poets in English, spoke enthusiastically about I Missed the Spring and David Benjamin, the rabbi of our Reform community, said a few words about the poetry.

Several friends read a selection of my poems in Hebrew translation. A representative from the Women Wage Peace movement recited ‘Congregation of Love’ (2008), the last verse of which reads:

If a congregation of mothers

were to join in prayer and song,

maybe we could effect a miracle,

and set mankind on a path, strewn

with petals of peace, love and laughter.

To wind up the program, I sang ‘The Seventh Day’, which I see as an attempt at reconciliation between the orthodox and secular Jews. I was joined by Cantor Estelle Kunof Epstein, who had flown in from the States the day before, to be present at the launch.

Both books were stacked on a table, where I sat with my son, who passed me the books to sign.  As an author, I should delight in signing books, but what I really wanted was to mingle with the many friends and colleagues, who had come to celebrate with me.

 

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