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The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem

Sarit Yishai-Levi


This Israeli bestseller is a multi-generational saga of Jerusalem, extending from the early 20th century when the Turks ruled Palestine, through the years of the British Mandate and the establishment of the State of Israel, to the early 1970s. It is the story of the Ermoza family, respected Sephardic Jews who own a delicatessen in the Jerusalem market. The narrator is Gabriela, the wild, rebellious daughter of Luna, known as “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem.” Gabriela gradually reveals the family secrets and lies, but mainly the inner strengths that family members have to summon in order to overcome the ups and downs of life along the way.
A curse seems to hang over the Ermoza family, for the men know great love but have to renounce it and marry women that they do not love. Rafael, Gabriela’s great-grandfather, fell in love with a mysterious, blue-eyed Ashkenazi girl—shameful!—but was prevailed on to marry frigid Merkeda who did not attract him at all. His handsome, clever son Gabriel is forced to marry Rosa, an ugly and illiterate orphan, and Rosa’s daughter Luna, courted by all the young men in Jerusalem, picks David who cannot forget his love for a girl that he met in Italy during World War II.
A colorful, rich and enjoyable novel in which Jerusalem and its historic events during the last century play a leading role.

Exquisitely rich in history and detail… Poignant and intriguing book.

Historical Novel Society

Fans of Gabriel Garcia Marquez will find much to love in “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem.”  The narrative is lush and rife with scandalous secrets of a passionately opinionated family that might find it easier to free themselves from the clutches of war, than from the Ermoza curse inflicted upon them.
The Jewish Journal

Passion and the grand sweep of history permeate this dazzling you-cannot-put-it-down novel about four generations of astonishing women--and the men in their family who just might be cursed by love. So rich and vibrant, that every page seems to virtually breathe.

Author Caroline Leavitt

...Her triumph lies in showing Israel’s unique challenge: to assemble its balkanized communities into a coherent whole.

Beautiful, sweeping…an enchanting, moving book…The characters stayed with me, as if they were still living in Jerusalem.


The surprise of the year, if not the decade… Everything is so alive…What marvelous writing…what insight and passion!


This is the Sephardi version of Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness…Superb.

Nana 10

A gripping plot full of secrets, lies, loves and disappointments…A pleasure.


Sharing interesting incidents of Jerusalem’s history of the past century with a rich and playful language Sarit Yishai-Levi is taking the reader to a blissful journey.
Salom Magazine


With its flowing style book reflects the conflicts between members of a family in war times and material and spiritual effects of war comprehensively.
Ayrac Magazine 

The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem
Title The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem
Author’s Last Name Yishai-Levi
Author's First Name Sarit
Language(s) English, German, Italian, Turkish
Genre novel
Publisher (Hebrew) Modan
Year of Publication (Hebrew) 2013
No. Pages 448 pp.
Book title - Hebrew (phonetic) Malkat Ha-Yofi Shel Yerushalayim
Representation Represented by ITHL


Italian: Rome, Sonzogno/RCS, 2015
Turkish: Istanbul, Koton, 2015
German: Berlin, Aufbau, 2016; pback, 2017

English: New York, St. Martin's Press, 2016

Congratulations to Barabara Harshav for the 2018 PEN Medal for Translation!
The prize is given to a translator whose career has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through the body of their work. Barbara Harshav has been translating works from French, German, Hebrew and Yiddish for over twenty years and has currently published over forty books of translation. Among the many Hebrew authors she has translated: Yoram Kaniuk, Agnon, Yehudit Hendel, Yehuda Amichai and many more.
The Ministry of Culture and Sport announced the names of the winners of the Arik Einstein Veterans Artists Prize.
A prize of 50,000 NIS was given to each of the 21 artists who worked and are still working to promote Israeli culture in various fields -Music, dance, theater, plastic arts, cinema and literature. In the literature category the winners were Ronny Someck, Jacob Buchan and Shlomit Cohen-Assif. Also, Anat Masiach is among the recipient of the prize for debut literary works. Congratulations!
Congratulations to Ronit Matalon, the recipient of the 2017 Brenner prize for her book 'And the Bride Closed the Door". And, congratulations to Amir ziv, the recipent of the first ever Brenner prize for debut novels.
Ronit Matalon's book tells the story of Margie, a young bride, who shuts herself up in her mother's bedroom and declares that she won’t get married. Her family gathers at the locked door, not knowing what to do. Amir Ziv tells a story that begins as an apparently routine correspondence between a prying citizen, secretly in love with his neighbor, and a conscientious municipal clerk, and developes into an uncovering of a great underlying drama.
The fourth German-Hebrew/Hebrew-German translation workshop April 29 to May 5, 2018 Beit Ben-Yehuda, Jerusalem
After workshops in Berlin, Jerusalem and Straelen, the workshop will return to Jerusalem this spring. This workshop will focus on the participants translations. These are unfinished translations that have not yet been published. These will be sent to all participants. The workshop is open to 10 participants and is intended for literary translators with experience and publications. Workshop facilitators: Anne Birkenhauer and Gadi Goldberg Prerequisites: At least one published translation Duration: Sunday, April 29, 2018 until Saturday, May 5, 2018 Location: Beit Ben-Yehuda, 28 Ein Gedi St., 93383 Jerusalem Participation fee: Participation (Accommodation and meals) is free of charge. Travel / flight expenses will be refunded. For more details and for the documents required for submitting application: Anne Birkenhauer, and Gadi Goldberg,
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is one of the 100 notable books of 2017 of the "New York Times".

Congratulations to Zeruya Shalev and Shifra Horn for receiving the 2017 Adei Wizo Prize.

Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award
Ayelet Gundar-Goshen's "Waking Lions" is longlisted for the 2018 International Dublin Literary Award! The books on the longlist are selected by 400 libraries worldwide. Titles are nominated on the basis of ‘high literary merit’ as determined by the nominating library.
Yitzchak Mayer's personal website goes live
English edition of Yitzchak Mayer's amazing "Silent Letter" is about to come out with Mosaic Press. Learn more about the author's incredible life story on his brand new website.
MHL - New webzine starting soon!