Today’s Featured Kindle Book:
Author: Ezekiel Nieto Benzion
Genre: Historical Fiction
Now or never, I sighed as I took down the last of the many journals my grandfather had given me. I had already spent years poring over the tiny Hebrew written 200 years ago during the Napoleonic wars by the mysterious author, Judah Halevi. My grandfather had been sure that these fragile old books would contain stories of his family’s heroes. Instead I had found mysteries. The journals were filled with codes, false names and vague places and dates. This man, this Judah Halevi, eluded me still. He wrote these journals so he wanted us to know some truths about his life but yet he was afraid to reveal too much. What was he trying to tell us across the centuries? I riffled the pages gently before I opened the last book he had labeled “Miscellany.” A folded paper fell out. A map…faded and drawn by hand—many places labeled with tiny Hebrew letters and an arrow pointing north labeled “To Prague” with a single Hebrew word: “Bereshit”—“In the beginning.” Then I saw the river’s distinctive S-shaped bend on the map. All of my grandfather’s tales of the old country centered on a village near such a curve in the river in Bohemia. I called my wife. “I am going back to the old country. I will find Judah Halevi at last.”
About the Author:
All his life, Ezekiel Nieto Benzion (born in NYC in 1954) has been an avid listener–highly prized by the talented storytellers in his family who often vied among themselves for an audience to hear their tales. His favorite memories were the hours spent with his grandparents–all immigrants from Eastern Europe–who told wonderful tales about their adventures in the old country and in the new one while “kibitzing” over endless games of gin rummy or pinochle or while drinking many “glasses” of tea.
As the stories reached their climaxes, the narrator often switched to Yiddish, to spare the tender ears of “das Kind”–the child. Everyone would roar with laughter or shake their heads in sympathy at the end of the tale, leaving young Ezekiel desperate to learn the language to understand their secrets. So, in college, he switched his major from mathematics to foreign languages–specializing in the languages of the Jewish diaspora–Yiddish, Ladino, Arabic and Hebrew.
Eventually his grandfather gave him his most prized possession–the 200 year old journals written by a distant forebear, Judah Halevi. Throughout the journals, Ezekiel found codes and puzzles leading him on new paths of research to uncover the truth of the mysterious doctor’s life. What he learned forms the structure of the tales in the series from “The Judah Halevi Journals.” In writing the books, Ezekiel proudly follows his family’s tradition–telling the stories of the old country to a new generation.