Friday, February 26, 2021

"Lockdown" - short story

They were seated two rows ahead of me on the half-empty plane and without seeing their faces, or knowing anything about them, I could tell that they were totally out of their element. What was it? The angle of their heads? The nervous glances back and forth? The constant whispering, even though there was no one nearby? I couldn’t overhear their low-toned conversation, but noticed it was interrupted every few minutes by what sounded like forced giggles. As if they were making the most of a confusing situation. As if they weren’t exactly comfortable being in the air. As if they didn’t really belong. When one of them stood up to make her way to the bathroom, my suspicions were confirmed.

Coming up the aisle toward where I stood, stretching my legs, was a young woman—a teenager maybe, or perhaps slightly older. The red-headed girl was religious; that was quite obvious. Not modern religious, but rather Haredi. Ultra-Orthodox. Her modest blouse had long sleeves, and she wore an ankle-length faded blue skirt. Attire that would be suitable to the streets of Jerusalem but which was strange to see on a flight to Bulgaria.

Read the rest of the story on Literary Yard.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Tel Aviv Marathon was yesterday. I ran my 10 kilometer race today!


It was raining yesterday, and very cold. Luckily, this year the Tel Aviv Marathon races are digital. Not only can you run wherever you are, but you can run whenever you want. The official app is available until the end of the month. Ever since I ran the 10 kilometer race in Tel Aviv two years ago, I have been eager to repeat the experience. This morning, with mostly sunny skies and much warmer temperatures in Neve Ilan, I started my race.

By running at home, I joined some 20,000 participants from 33 countries who were running in the races. The Marathon was organized this year under the slogan "All Running Together Separately". While it would have been great to start my race yesterday morning at the exact same time as runners elsewhere, I was very satisfied running "together separately" today.

Usually Marathon races are competitions. This year in a digital format, they are for pure enjoyment. I have taken up running as a hobby and have had 7 practice runs this month. My pace kept getting better and better. Even so, the Marathon's official app clocked me in a bit slower than what I've been seeing in Nike Run Club, the app I use to track my runs.

What will happen in the future? When will the pandemic subside enough that it will be possible to run Marathon races together, and no longer separately? Will I run in the 2022 Tel Aviv Marathon? I hope so! Until then, I will keep running!

Related articles:

Friday, February 5, 2021

Review of Shadow Falls by Wendy Dranfield

In Shadow Falls by Wendy Dranfield (Bookouture, January 2021), Nate Monroe and Madison Harper both have troubled pasts, and a lot more in common than they realize. Both of them spent time in prison, convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. Nate served time on Death Row after being framed for his girlfriend’s murder. And Madison, a former police detective, lost custody of her son after she, too, was framed on a manslaughter charge. Both of them are driven by a desperate need to right past wrongs.

Nate works as a private investigator while Madison is barely making ends meet as a waitress. She contacts Nate in hopes he will help clear her name and find her son. When Nate is hired to investigate the disappearance of a twelve-year-old girl at a summer camp called Shadow Falls, he reluctantly allows Madison to join him in the case.

The two of them travel to northern California to the camp, which is on the verge of closing down after all the bad publicity it received following the girl’s disappearance. Nate and Madison question the camp director and her staff, all of whom seem to be hiding secrets. The police are not sharing information, and the girl’s parents seem to know more than what they’re saying.

Nate and Madison are portrayed very realistically in this novel. They have lives outside of the narrative, and events in the past that affect what they do in the present day. They have faults and issues they need to handle in the future. Both are strong-willed individuals who won’t necessarily have happy endings in their quests for revenge. They are portrayed with a soft side as well, allowing a stray dog named Brody to join them on their journey.

Shadow Falls is well written, and certainly lives up to its name as an absolutely gripping mystery thriller. The plot moves swiftly as Nate and Madison pursue their investigation, keeping one glued to the page until the unexpected denouement at the very end. Except, it’s not the end for Nate and Madison. The two of them will continue their efforts to clear their names in the next novel of the series.

Wendy Dranfield is a former coroner's assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK. Several of her short stories have been published in UK and US anthologies. She has also been shortlisted and longlisted for various competitions, including the Mslexia Novel Competition. She has previously written a Young Adult mystery and the Dean Matheson crime series. Shadow Falls is the first novel of her Detective Madison Harper series.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

The Incredible Shira Haas

Israeli actress Shira Haas has been nominated for a Golden Globes award in the category of Best Actress in a Limited Series for her role in Netflix’s series “Unorthodox.” In the series, Haas, 25, plays a young ultra-Orthodox woman from Brooklyn, who flees the community for an uncertain future in Berlin.

“I’m super excited and happy,” she said, quoted in Deadline. “It’s more than I expected. It’s the greatest.”

The series was inspired by the 2012 memoir Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman. I previously reviewed that book here.

“Unorthodox” was also nominated for a Golden Globes award for Best Limited Series or TV Movie.

Haas’s breakout role was in “Shtisel,” an Israeli television drama series about a fictional Haredi Jewish family living in the Geula neighborhood of Jerusalem. I am currently watching the third season of “Shtisel,” and Haas stands out for her stunning portrayal as a young ultra-Orthodox wife desperate to get pregnant despite a life-threating medical condition. The third season of the show has some very powerful episodes.

Haas’s nomination for a Golden Globes award is just the latest recognition for her incredible talents. She was previously nominated last year for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her role in “Unorthodox”. She won the Ophir Award for Best Supporting Actress in the Israeli drama film "Asia", a film I have yet to see.

In the future, Haas told Deadline the she wants to keep portraying “different characters, that even though we are different from them, they can connect us all together. And to keep on telling meaningful stories.”

Good luck in the Golden Globes, Shira!

Related article:

Review of Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman.