Friday, November 16, 2012

Next Year in Jerusalem: My Review

Available at: Amazon  

You may be wondering why I chose the title Next Year in Jerusalem! for my new novel.  Why not Forbidden Romance or Romantic Travel or Spiritual Awakenings or Lust, Memories and Old Friends on Facebook?  After all Natalie and Maggie are two women, both caught up in issues that many of us face: a somewhat dull but faithful husband; a bad marriage leading finally to a divorce; a desire for adventure; unsatisfied spiritual longings.  They have a great friendship with each other, something research keeps confirming, keeps us young and emotionally happy, but life is far from easy for either women. 
So again, why would I focus on a strange title that comes out of a book written thousands of years ago? 
Here is one of the reasons.  Next Year in Jerusalem! is actually a phrase that shows up at the end of the Haggadah.  Those of you who are not Jewish may wonder what that is.  The Haggadah is a book that the Jews have used for thousands of years to celebrate and relive the Passover experience.  Many people know that the central theme of the story is how the Jews, who were slaves in Egypt, were finally able to escape and began their long journey of 40 years to get to the promised Land, which was Israel.  However, what a lot of people don't realize is that this theme is universal and can be taken metaphorically for all of us.  That is why when the Haggadah ends with the fourth glass of wine being drunk, and the words, Next Year in Jerusalem! the phrase becomes so significant. 
We all have a struggle in our lives.  We all are searching for personal freedom, whether we are unfortunately in a horrible situation, such as a prison, or whether we are simply trying to be true to our own selves as we age and develop.  I'm going to talk a lot more about this theme. 
However, to make this more real.  Let me give you an example that somewhat parallels some of the struggles that Maggie goes through after her divorce.
Here is what a friend told me about a bad time in her marriage. She had gone to a lecture where the speaker talked about how we all have to go out of our own personal Egypt, at times in our lives. She said that was certainly how she was feeling, struggling through some bad days with her marriage where she often felt criticized or misunderstood. She felt that the language between them no longer worked. All words seemed to lead to further arguments and put-downs. She was trying to find ways to honor herself through speaking 'her own language'. Again, I mean that metaphorically. For example, one day she went out with her fiends, shopping and having so much fun. She felt as if she and was leaving her Egypt for a day and meeting her own needs. She could speak in ways that were understood, and relax without fear of conflict. She could laugh. Her friends 'got it' -whatever 'it' was, they all understood each other. She quickly found herself feeling uplifted during that day's outing.
My friend left her own Egypt, at least for the time being, by maintaining a sense of her own needs and what made her joyful. In her case shopping, good conversation, and laughter with friends was a successful recipe for well-being.
She knew she hadn't reached the promised land yet. She knew she had a difficult marriage to work on and/or ultimately leave, but she found a way to at least temporarily release herself and be was true to herself.  And in this sense she was already on her way to her promised land.  It might take another year or more, but she would get there.  And by the way she did!
So for her, she could honestly say, Next Year in Jerusalem!

Natalie didn't tell David (her husband)about her other dream, the one about Jack, the Jewish fellow from Chicago who'd been around to save her from despair after she decided she wasn't moving to Iraq. A diamond salesman, Jack now lived in London and traveled back and forth to Israel all the time.
Natalie prided herself on staying in touch with lots of people from her past. Jack was one of them. Occasionally they e-mailed and he'd friended her on Facebook two years ago. Although they hadn’t written recently, if he read her Facebook page he would know she was going to Jerusalem. What if he tried to see her? What if there was still an attraction? Would she tell David? Would he care? Would she act out?
Her life with David was so good and stable and predictable. And boring!
Did I just say boring?
No, she must have meant solid. Or did she mean solid?
Oh, I'm a wreck. I'm miserable and I can't sleep, she continued to obsess. What about that cute secretary at the college? The one who has a sparkle in her eye whenever she talks to David? How old is she? Forty-two? Divorced and sexy. How would I know if something’s going on there?
I'm going crazy lying here, she began again. Where’s the Xanax? Already packed. Oh, that was dumb.
Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, internationally known positive psychologist, inspires thousands with her ENCHANTED SELF®. Around the world people benefit from her techniques to enhance well-being, and to live up to their potential. Known for her ability to make complex psychological concepts easy to understand and to implement, she has now turned her talents to novel writing.  "A great fiction read is a great escape, and yet, it is more! It is the gateway to new ways of thinking and behaving."

Dr. Holstein received her Doctorate in Education from Boston University and her BA degree from Barnard College. Dr. Holstein has been a school psychologist and taught first and second grades. She is in private practice with her husband, Dr. Russell M. Holstein, in Long Branch, New Jersey. Find her at

Her previous books include:
·       THE ENCHANTED SELF, A Positive Therapy
·       Recipes for Enchantment, The Secret Ingredient is YOU!
·       The Truth (I'm a girl, I'm smart and I know everything)
·       Seven Gateways to Happiness: Freeing Your Enchanted Self.

My 4 Star Review
Although a good read I must say it was a big led down in many ways. The short story centered around Jerusalem and the visit of two American Jews to this ancient city that did not grip me at all.
My experiences with Jewish people and their rich culture was always one of vibrancy and life. I was intoxicated with their whole way of life. 

Which lacked in this book. 
The two women had no idea of their culture, their ceremonies and the deep spiritual meaning behind it all. There were times that I thought they were in their twenties because of their lack of knowledge but when I find out that they are older I was truly annoyed.
The character Natalie constantly thought about past relationships and the great sex they had while claiming to be happily married for twenty plus years. But in the same breath admit that her marriage was boring. What is she doing about it? 

At that time of life you do not think about past relationships any more. And what it had to do with anything pertaining the visit I truly did not know. It seems the series would continue so maybe it would become clear at the end, but for now it lacked a flow of understanding.
The struggles that Maggie faced was more earnest but yet she was immature in discerning and evaluating her struggles and it also centered around her own selfish needs. Not that I want to demeanor her struggle but for a woman of her age it was just down right childish. Life lessons -coming out of Egypt - teach us to realign with God, to set the self aside and focus on Him and He would lead you to the promised land of your life. This is not a time of reflecting on your self. But focusing on Him and what you have to learn. Please do not understand me wrong there is nothing wrong with relaxing and having a good time but when you are on a trip of this magnitude you shift in your way of thinking and doing. 
The wedding feast with all its rich ceremonies was great but again the significance passed these two greatly. 
The mystery woman was the only thing that really peeked my interest but I was left with a cliff hanger. 

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