Yitzhak Bar-Yosef writes here of his dead father, writer Yehoshua Bar-Yosef, renowned for the dozens of books he wrote. The story is told by the adult Yitzhak Bar-Yosef, grieving for his father and reconstructing his childhood and youth with flashbacks.
The father`s story is fascinating. He was born into an ultra-Orthodox family in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood and married a girl from the same background. After becoming disillusioned with religion, he leaves his wife and two children and moves to Tel Aviv. His wife does not share Bar-Yosef`s loss of faith, continues to love her husband and follows him to Tel Aviv, only to find him already living with another woman. While on a family visit during the War of Independence, he sleeps with his wife and nine months later, his son Yitzhak is born. The abandoned woman raises her baby and two older children in poverty. The husband returns to his wife after she falls ill with cancer, and takes the family to live in Haifa. They live together until his wife succumbs to her illness.
Yitzhak is full of compassion for his mother and anger for his father, yet he also loves him. He describes his father as a fascinating figure, both frightening and appealing. The author presents his father as full of lust for life, as a womanizer and as a selfish person. The emotional struggle the son feels, torn between his mother and his father, is told with restraint and honesty. The literary landscapes move from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to Haifa and Safed, where Yehoshua Bar-Yosef spent his last years.
English translation available (for publishers only)