Grandpa's Mountain: Letters from a Border Kibbutz in Israel

by Arieh Larkey

Book, 2015



Call number





Springfield, NJ ; Jerusalem : Gefen, 2015


It was during the euphoric aftermath of Israels victorious Six Day War in 1967, that Yoram (Richie) Friedman uprooted his wife and ten-year-old son from the good life; in the States, to settle on a picturesque border kibbutz in Northern Israel. In October 1973, the reality of their seemingly idyllic new home comes into sharp relief as Syrian war planes fly menacingly overhead, signaling the beginning of Israel's next (and most costly) war with its Arab neighbors the Yom Kippur War. The trauma of that horrific conflict somehow strengthens Yorams Zionist ideals of helping to rebuild the Jewish homeland, but his wife and son reject his lofty principles and decide to return to the States, resulting in a wrenching silence from both sides of the ocean lasting almost a quarter century. Then one day, Yoram receives an unexpected letter from his twelve-year-old grandson a new Boy Scout and budding adventurer. Their ensuing pen-pal relationship brings about a special bond between grandpa and grandson, as adventures of the past intermingle with present day events in a compelling and healing love story spanning the generations.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member melissajerome
A really nice book that made me cry. While some might focus on the political connations of the book, with anything Israeli seemingly being political, I thought it was more a story of family, and how wonderfully Grampa and Steve were able to build a close relationship. The kibbutz details were
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interesting but I more enjoyed hearing how Steve grew up to be the man he did with his grandfather's help and how his grandfather dealt with his separation from his wife and son. I especially found touching Steve's father's viewpoint at the end of the book, so nice to see both sides of that story. From a political standpoint, I found the historical explanations helpful (not having a great deal of knowledge on how Israel came to be) and I also found the descriptions of the Arab-Israeli conflict very well-balanced. The shock over 9/11 was depicted so well and I felt sympathy with their Republican reactions although I don't vote that way myself. A quick, enjoyable read!
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LibraryThing member chutzpanit
A short and sweet book, primarily told through letters between Steven Friedman, a 12 year old, and his estranged grandfather who lives in Israel. I loved this story. I thought the descriptions given were beautiful and the back story was well thought out.

I would recommend this book whole heartedly
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to anyone who wants to learn more about what brings people to Israel and what keeps them there. It's also a great tale of how not every Jew is the same and there is such a range of experiences.
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LibraryThing member diana.hauser
GRANDPA’S MOUNTAIN: LETTERS FROM A BORDER KIBBUTZ IN ISRAEL written by Arieh Larkey and published by Gefen Publishing House in Jerusalem was sent to me in exchange for an unbiased review.
GRANDPA’S MOUNTAIN is a lovely narrative which spans many years, consisting of a series of letters exchanged
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between a young Steve Friedman (in Livingston, New Jersey) and his grandfather, Yoram Friedman (at Kibbutz Misgav-Am in Israel).
Steve finds his grandfather’s address on an old envelope which Yoram wrote earlier to Steve’s father, Michael. Yoram is never spoken of and we learn that he is estranged from his former wife and son (Michael). While Steve loves his parents and seems to be a very obedient son, there is a missing connection - an emotional abyss - which Steve can’t quite articulate but hopes by writing to his grandfather (whom he has never met) to find a sympathetic ear. He writes of his love of the outdoors, camping, hiking, a closeness to nature. He is an eager boy scout and writes to his grandfather of upcoming camping and hiking expeditions. The grandfather was an eager, young boy scout, also, and their pen pal relationship becomes a very close, personal one.
Yoram attempts to explain his family’s estrangement and the events and feelings that led him to emigrate to Israel and becoming part of a Jewish renaissance.
The letters are very touching, very personal, and by the end of the book, we feel that we know these two very special people personally.
If this is not an ‘official’ autobiography by Mr. Larkey, the narrative certainly mirrors his own life. His biography information tells us that he was born in Newark, New Jersey. He did serve in the U.S. Army and was sent to occupied Germany as part of the NATO forces. His experience there made a profound impression on Mr. Larkey and intensified his Jewish identity. He made his aliyah (or move to Israel) in 1971. He was an architect and spent time at the Kibbutz Misgav-Am. Mr. Larkey is the author of several other books.
As a side note, I feel that I became better acquainted with Israel, the kibbutz system and the Jewish religion. I didn’t realize it was happening - Mr. Larkey’s writing is very quiet, subtle and deliberate.
I am very glad to have read this book. I cried at the end and the ending is still with me - I care about these ‘people’. I would heartily recommend this title.
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LibraryThing member Judithw536
A delightful book for young adults. It highlights the special bond between a boy and his grandfather, and at the same time teaches what it is like living in a border Kibbutz in Israel. I found myself drawn to both the Grandfather living in Israel and to the young boy living in New Jersey.
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LibraryThing member SAMANTHA100
Grandpa's Mountain: Letters from a Border Kibbutz, by Arieh Larkey, opens in 1996 with a letter written by twelve year old Steven Friedman to his grandfather, Yoram, whom he has never met. Yoram is Steven's father's father and has been estranged from his son for years. Steven lives in New Jersey
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and his grandfather lives on a kibbutz in Israel. Steven makes the reason for his letter clear: he asks why his own father does not want to talk about Yoram. Also, he wants Yoram to help convince his parents to give permission for him to go on a hike in order to complete an Eagle Scout requirement. And so begins a relationship between two kindred souls. The story is told in letter form, for the most part. With each of their touching letters, we watch an incredible relationship develop. The tone of the letters is conversational and the dialogue is natural. Grandfather and grandson discover they are very much alike. There is not anything they can not discuss.
This book is beautifully written and it is emotionally stirring. It is filled with credible characters that readers can care about. I highly recommend reading this book.

I received this book through LibraryThing and I give this review of my own free will.
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LibraryThing member terrygraap
A very interesting read about a grandfather and a grandson. The story is unfolded by letters between them. One lives in Israel and the other in New Jersey. I recommend it.


9652297747 / 9789652297747

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