Monday, November 13, 2017


Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy worked as an actress and writer in film and television in the United States and Israel. Night in Jerusalem is her debut novel, which she has adapted to film. She lives in Ojai California with her husband and daughter.

She writes, “I lived in Israel in the 1960s, a naive twenty-year-old, hoping to find myself and my place in the world. The possibility of war was remote to me. I imagined the tensions in the region would somehow be resolved peacefully. Then, the Six Day War erupted and I experienced it firsthand in Jerusalem.

I have drawn Night in Jerusalem from my experiences during that time. The historical events portrayed in the novel are accurate. The characters are based on people I knew in the city. Like me, they were struggling to make sense of their lives, responding to inherited challenges they could not escape that shaped their destiny in ways they and the entire Middle East could not have imagined.

I have always been intrigued by the miraculous. How and where the soul’s journey leads and how it reveals its destiny. How two people who are destined, even under the threat of war and extinction, can find one another.

Israel’s Six Day War is not a fiction; neither was the miracle of its victory. What better time to discover love through intrigue, passion, and the miraculous.

Writing this story was in part reliving my history in Israel, in part a mystical adventure. I am grateful that so many who have read Night In Jerusalem have experienced this as well.”



Author: Gaelle Lehrer Kennedy
Publisher: PKZ Inc.
Pages: 246
Genre: Historical Romance

A bewitching love story that is also an extraordinary portrait of Jerusalem, its faith, spirituality, identity, and kaleidoscope of clashing beliefs, Night in Jerusalem is a novel of mystery, beauty, historical insight, and sexual passion.
David Bennett is invited to Jerusalem in 1967 by his cousin who, to the alarm of his aristocratic British family, has embraced Judaism. He introduces David to his mentor, Reb Eli, a revered sage in the orthodox community. Despite his resistance to religious teaching, David becomes enthralled by the rabbi’s wisdom and compassionate presence. When David discloses a sexual problem, Reb Eli unwittingly sets off a chain of events that transforms his life and the life of the mysterious prostitute, Tamar, who, in a reprise of an ancient biblical story, leads both men to an astonishing realization. As passions rise, the Six Day War erupts, reshaping the lives of everyone caught up in it.


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Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

I read a lot, of course. I love stories that are told simply, where the writer is unobtrusive and the characters and plot say it all. I think it was Einstein who said it is easy to make something complicated, but it takes genius to make things simple. Einstein gets blamed for a lot of stuff, I know, but you get the drift – there’s a simple that takes mastery to achieve. It is hard to write stories that are so clear and transparent you can see right into the souls of the characters. That’s what works for me. I don’t care what the genre is. If it does that, I’m in! I like that kind of simple in everything, from the way my garden is laid out, to how my furniture is arranged. I love walking in nature, listening to the birds, and, especially if water is involved, I am in heaven.

When did you start writing?

I started writing at about 30, pretty much as soon as I got a sense of who I am. I had been working as an actress, and before that as a model. I knew the arts were for me. The thing that drew me to writing was that I could do it all myself without anyone telling me what my part was or where I had to fit in. I’ve always responded best to the beat of my own drum, which I can hear loud and clear most days.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

I studied creative writing at Columbia and came to appreciate the astonishing virtuosity of our writers. But the pivotal shift for me came when I realized I am not at all interested in writing for its own sake. Sometimes, I find the writing can get in the way of the work. The writing I love is where the writer becomes invisible. I found it hugely liberating to disappear into my characters and their world. I have never looked back.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

I’d go to Connemara in Ireland. It was home to John O’Donohue, a poet who lights up my life. He talks about “landscape as presence” and celebrates the spiritual connection of Celtic culture with the natural world, where every brook and feature of the land has a name, a history and a divinity. I have always been affected by the energy of place. I am inspired by the mists and shades of the British Isles and the accents and wordplay of the natives. It makes me want to write!

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

I’d go to a nearby beach. It’s across railroad tracks and a scramble down a cliff, so it gets left alone a lot - but not by the seals. I love bodies of water. Here in Southern California, the most accessible one is the Pacific Ocean. Not too shabby!

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

Egypt. I spent 2 months there and it felt like déjà vu, especially sailing down the Nile, while in Luxor.

Back to your present book, Night In Jerusalem, how did you publish it?

I self-published, using a talented designer who turned my manuscript into an elegant book.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

The book draws on my experience in Jerusalem around the time of the Six Day War. I spent the best part of 10 years in the city and wanted to capture how it was when I was there. The neighborhoods and important landmarks have not changed much. I checked with Google maps to make sure I had the street names right and, where there were discrepancies, confirmed my recollection with friends who still live there. Aside from having the geography laid out accurately, it was important for the book to capture the feeling of the city at that time, so the main travelling I did was back through time, to connect with the energy of the place and its people when their everyday survival was not taken for granted, despite thousands of years of presence. The city embodies the spiritual practice at the heart of much of our civilization and is an architectural wonder in its own right. In some ways, it is with all of us, wherever we are.

Why was writing Night In Jerusalem so important to you?

Winston Churchill wrote that there is nothing as exhilarating as when someone shoots at you and misses. When I went to Israel, I was a naive twenty-year-old. To me, the possibility of war was remote. I imagined the tensions in the region would somehow be resolved peacefully. When the Six Day War erupted. I experienced it firsthand. I remember as if it was yesterday the time I spent in shelters with other women, listening to Arab news reports on the radio proclaiming victory while we contemplated how we would end it for ourselves. It turned out, of course, that the war went the other way. We were to live! Jerusalem was re-unified! Now, that was exhilarating. At the same time, the search for peace, the endless arguments about what it should look like, and the courageous, impossible loves that thrived despite all odds - the themes of Night In Jerusalem - have been with me my entire life. I do not have answers to the questions they bring up: why does it take such courage to truly love, how impossible it seems to bring peace to the world, and, of course, why “God works in mysterious ways.” The characters in the book, and their responses to the challenges they encounter, express different points of view that I share, even as they conflict with each other. I want the book to show how these differences can be contained in fulfilled and inspiring lives, and how happiness depends on us embracing our individual destiny, not on following any prescribed path. Night In Jerusalem speaks with the voice of my heart.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

The love story in Night In Jerusalem came to me on a movie set. We were filming on a blazingly hot day, dressed as lightly as possible, the men stripped to the waist. An orthodox woman in long black clothes and a wig kept coming out to look at us from her balcony. I sensed how strongly she yearned for contact. The gap between us could have been crossed in a few paces, yet we were centuries apart. I imagined what it was like to be her, what courage it would take for her to break free, how she might do it. Decades later I wrote the book. I pay attention to people and imagine their stories. They are everywhere.

1 comment:

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