Ora Ahimeir knew nothing of her mother Haya’s first marriage—she died of heart disease at age thirty-four—until a chance meeting with a woman in the U.S. exposed the secret: her mother’s first husband was murdered. Another thirty years would go by before a clue led the author, almost like a detective, to unravel her mother’s secret past. Then she sat down and wrote a gripping book about her, her family, and the Old Yishuv—the Jews of Palestine—in the first half of the 20th century.
The clue, discovered in the Safed museum in Upper Galilee, was an invitation to her mother’s wedding on which someone had written: “Four days after the wedding he was murdered.” David was a Jewish constable in the British Mandate police force, who had come as a pioneer from Hungary; Haya, the 18-year-old bride, came from a respected Hasidic family in Safed. The two young people fell in love, and in spite of her family’s disapproval, they married. This was 1938, the year of the Arab Revolt, and a few days after the wedding David was shot in the back on his way to work, apparently by an Arab. Haya, who had rebelled against her family, was suddenly a widow as well as an outcast in her own hometown, where her tragic fate was seen as punishment for her sins. She moved to Jerusalem and turned over a new leaf, but never really recovered from the love of her youth.
ENGLISH TRANSLATION AVAILABLE (for publishers only).
[This] book … touched my heart. [The stories] are all
drawn with a fine, meticulous and loving hand. There is in [the] writing
something of the quiet after the storm, a quiet that is hot, full of detail.
And the quiet in the writing touches the reader more than screaming or wailing
would. Also the architecture of the book, the movement between periods and
places, is beautiful.
Author Amos Oz
Bride combines a gripping documentary
narrative with a sensitive psychological novel centered on the emotion-steeped
relationship and longings of a daughter for her lost mother.
Author Haim Be'er
A heart-wrenching personal account … This is a story
painted on a broad canvas about a period and its people.
Author Shifra Horn
A really wonderful story … After the death of the
bridegroom, the encounter with his family is one of the most moving parts of
the book … The author writes courageously about the lives of her parents and
An impressive and exciting account … The personal aspect
adds credibility and Ahimeir’s narrative technique recalls suspense stories …
As reality and imagination feed each other, an important and gripping work is
Ahimeir’s skillfully written book tells a powerful story
that would have been sufficient for a totally fictional novel.
A gripping documentary narrative … Ahimeir’s first book successfully braids together the touching personal story of her family and the
glorious but entangled lore of those two bitter rivals: the Jewish communities
of Jerusalem and of Safed … A sweeping documentary-fictional story … Many readers
will enjoy it and be excited by it.
I read the book in one breath, day and night, without
sleep … The author chose to write a book woven with a fine thread between the
harsh reality and literary creation. The outcome is a literary gem.
Ahimeir unravels her secrets and the reader pays
attention … the ultimate in roots research, from the depth of the heart. There
is added value in the minute details of life in the last century … which bring
a smile of nostalgia to readers of Ahimeir’s generation. Perhaps the
touch-screen generation will also enjoy them.
Family secrets are gradually bared and create suspense,
interest and drama. But … the secret of the book’s charm lies in its honesty,
and in its delicate, meticulous depiction of the characters and their inner
The Sapir Prize Committee