Soho, Jan 2008, $22.00
In 1996 in Tel Aviv, literature professor Joseph Licht hopes to reconnect with his five adult sons as he desperately needs their forgiveness. Twenty years ago he deserted them and their mother when he realized he loved married male Rabbi Yoel Rosenzweig; Joseph was unaware that he was gay until that moment, but soon after he and his rabbi began their affair until a guilt wracked Yoel killed himself. Stunned by his loss, a grieving Joseph ended his marriage to Rebecca and his relationship with their five offspring. He also no longer practiced Judaism after three decades as an Orthodox Jew. Now he invites his children to join him on his fiftieth birthday although he is unsure they will come for each of them has major emotional problems that he knows he caused by what he did to them two decades ago when they were young.
Readers will feel empathy towards the five sons although their range of issues seems to run the gamut. Life in many aspects of Israel comes across very deep as the audience is taken to locales where the Licht family live to include the Negev, the university, the kibbutz and a small gay enclave. Although the look back to the Joseph-Yoel tryst is seen through a fond schmaltzy nostalgic lens even by the sons rather than a nuke that destroyed two families, readers will enjoy this deep family drama of a disdained patriarch trying to reconnect with the now adult children he deserted.