Grow­ing Up Below Sea Lev­el: A Kib­butz Childhood

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2019

Rachel Biale’s mem­oir of grow­ing up on a kib­butz, jux­ta­posed with an account of her par­ents’ flight from the Holo­caust, tells the quin­tes­sen­tial sto­ry of Israel in the most inti­mate terms. She begins her mem­oir with a descrip­tion of how her par­ents got to Israel and wound up on a kib­butz. Rachel was born four years after the state of Israel came into being, and her mem­oir con­tin­ues with twen­ty-four sto­ries that span her child­hood — from her ear­li­est mem­o­ries at age three to her depar­ture from Israel to Amer­i­ca at age twen­ty. These sto­ries touch on a piv­otal moment in Israel’s his­to­ry, geog­ra­phy, and social dreams. While these sto­ries focus on the world of chil­dren, they also offer a win­dow into the lives of the adult kib­butz mem­bers, includ­ing dark shad­ows of the Holo­caust. Her rela­tion­ship with her par­ents also ani­mates many of these sto­ries. Rachel’s par­ents lived on the kib­butz all their lives, but soon real­ized that no com­mu­ni­ty could live up to its utopi­an ideals on a day-to-day basis.

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