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About Aaron Leibel 

09/07/2020 12:00:00 AM


Aaron Leibel is the author of the acclaimed memoir, Figs and Alligators: An American Immigrant’s Life in Israel in the 1970s and 1980s, to be published by Chickadee Prince Books in March 2021.

It is available to order from Amazon in Kindle and...Read more...

Book Presentation with HTAA

03/07/2021 01:07:10 PM


How To How To Deal With White Supremacists

03/03/2021 06:10:16 AM


Last week, I discussed the nature of the threat that White supremacists pose to American and other Diaspora Jewish communities in my Jerusalem Post review of Talia Lavin’s  Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy; this week, in my article on Hesh Kestin’s The Wrong...Read more...

Our Communities Are in Danger -- 1

02/22/2021 03:57:08 PM


For the next two weeks, my blog will consist of two of my book reviews that spell out the peril to the American and other Diaspora Jewish communities posed by White supremacists.

This week, it’s Culture Warlords: My Journey Into the Dark Web of White Supremacy, which...Read more...

Dancing With the Rabbi

02/15/2021 03:37:33 PM


Metaphorically speaking, watch Jewish Renewal Movement leader and political activist Rabbi Arthur Ocean Waskow go Dancing in God’s Earthquake in my Jerusalem Post review of the book by that name...Read more...

George Shultz: A Friend of the Jewish Sate

02/09/2021 10:29:50 AM



George Shultz — A Friend of the Jewish State


Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who died this week at 100, was a friend of Israel and the Jewish people and worked hard to achieve peace between the Jewish state and its neighbors. He also inadvertently played a role in putting bread on the Leibel’s table in Jerusalem during the mid-1980s.

As you’ll learn when you read Figs and Alligators, my...Read more...


02/01/2021 06:46:21 PM


Recently, I participated virtually in a funeral for my oldest daughter Lauren’s father-in-law, which took place in Israel. (Unfortunately, this was my second Zoom funeral. The first, for my brother Gary, took place last April. For that one, I was on the cemetery end of the Zoom camera.)

As I watched Yitzhak Cohen’s children eulogize him, I began to think what unusually good luck my daughters had in finding first-class...Read more...

Zoom Book-Launch Party

01/24/2021 09:50:44 AM


Well, the time for the launch of my new memoir, Figs and Alligators, is coming up on March 7. The book tells the story of why I decided to make aliyah to Israel, why I came back to America, and everything in between. It is published by Chickadee Prince Books, a Brooklyn small press. (The title refers to two very easily confused Hebrew words.)

In March, I am appearing at a couple of virtual book readings and book signings, and I hope...Read more...

Teaching Hebrew in Summer Camp

01/19/2021 05:56:36 AM


Teaching American Jewish kids Hebrew in summer camp to make them fluent in the language probably is mission impossible. However, teaching them a few words of the language can have a positive outcome.

See my review of Hebrew Infusion, which appeared in The Jerusalem Post a...Read more...

The Ashkenazi-Sephardi Divide

01/12/2021 09:57:46 AM


My most embarrassing moment in Israel —nay, in my life — occurred one night when I was still working as night manager for the Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem.   We had specific duties — to work with the cashier to make sure his room charges for the previous day were correct — and, of course, if people checked in or out at night, we had to process them.   But otherwise, our main job was to stay awake. (I never slept but if one of...Read more...

Saving Henry

01/05/2021 10:17:29 AM


It’s every parents’ worst nightmare — a child born with a genetic disease that is almost always fatal. Faced with that reality, author Laurie Strongin and her husband showed almost unbelievable love, courage and determination as they strove to save their son’s life, a story told in Saving Henry: A Mother’s Journey ( that I reviewed for The Jerusalem Post several years...Read more...

No to New Year's Eve Parties

12/29/2020 03:15:45 PM


No Silvester (New Year’s Eve) parties in hotels.

That was the edict from the Israeli Rabbinate when I lived in the Jewish state.

I doubt that the rule had anything to do with preserving the ethics of non-Jewish guests. After all, Judaism is primarily concerned with the behavior of Jews.

So maybe those “political rabbis” were afraid that Jews would run amok — getting drunk, doing lewd things — in celebrating...Read more...

From Vienna to La Paz

12/22/2020 02:13:12 PM


An extremely cultured Jewish family, the father was a violist with the Vienna Philharmonic, the mother an opera singer — desperate to escape the hell of Nazi-controlled Vienna — finally get out, landing in a very unlikely spot: La Paz, Bolivia.

How family members adjust to their new, radically different environment is the stuff of this fascinating novel, which I reviewed for The Jerusalem Post earlier this month.

One error...

Journalist Junket to Morocco

12/15/2020 06:34:00 AM


When I read about Morocco’s decision last Thursday to join Bahrain, UAE and Sudan in establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel, i couldn’t help but remember one of the great adventures of my life — the “journalist junket” I took part in with some 15 other American Jewish journalists to that North African nation.

In 1999, my colleagues and I spent two weeks traveling by bus and airplane across Morocco, visiting Fez,...Read more...

Israel's Treatment of Terrorists

12/08/2020 09:35:26 AM


I’ve recently read a wonderful book about an authentic American hero — The Luckiest Man, on the life of John McCain.

Author Mark Salter, a top aide and confidant, writes of the horrible torture that McCain endured as a POW in North Vietnam after his fighter/bomber was shot down.

That discussion led me to think about the treatment of captured enemy combatants in Israel. In my book, I write about serving one day as a guard...Read more...

Terrorism and the Jewish State

12/01/2020 10:10:32 AM


Living in the Jewish state for so many years, like all Israelis we were vulnerable to terrorism. That scourge hit close to home on several occasions. (I define terrorism to mean the deliberate targeting of civilians.) When we lived on Kibbutz Kfar Giladi close to the Lebanon border,...Read more...

Octopuses for Israel

11/24/2020 10:06:04 AM


Bonnie is a fiber artist. Walk into our family room almost anytime during the day, and you’re likely to see her knitting or crocheting — no, I don’t know a knit from a crochet — blankets, scarves, hats, even a chuppah (a wedding canopy).  And octopuses.

Yes, for the past three years she has been creating cloth versions of that sea creature to help premature babies cope with their new, scary environments.

Daughter...

Arms to Israel

11/17/2020 10:56:52 AM


During the War of Independence, the Jewish state faced not only armies from all over the Arab world and many Palestinian fighters, but also an arms boycott by the United States and much of Europe. This book, which I reviewed for The Jerusalem Post earlier this year, tells the story of how American Jews, with sechel and courage, got Israel the weapons it needed to beat the odds and win the...Read more...

Bonnie's Cats

11/10/2020 09:34:00 AM


Bonnie is a cat person, and, over the years, her creatures have been nice enough to let the two of us share their homes.

For those not familiar with felines, they’re like dogs, except when a bad guy tries to break into the house, they don’t bark. Instead, they run for cover and stay hidden until the danger has passed.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love our animals — at the present time, it’s Trevor and Glenda — and I...Read more...

Lone Soldier

11/03/2020 10:40:00 AM


In an earlier post, I wrote about daughter number one Lauren’s service in the IDF.  Debra, daughter number two, also did her army service, but it was much more complicated.

She had returned to America with Bonnie, her sister Abby and me when she was 16, at the end of her sophomore year in high school. She had no legal obligation to return to be drafted, because she hadn’t received her first in a series of call-up orders...Read more...

Shopping at the shuk

10/28/2020 09:15:08 AM


In the book, I describe in some detail our weekly trips to the shuk (Mehane Yehuda, the market close to the western entrance to Jerusalem).

As I noted, after Bonnie and I finished there, we lugged our heavy plastic shopping bags laden with fruits and...Read more...

Parental Angst 

10/21/2020 10:20:42 AM


In Figs, I stress how the Israel of 2020 is so different from the country in which my family and l lived during the 1970s and 1980s.   But I’m sure some things haven’t changed — such as parents’ anguish as their oldest child begins his or her army service.  In 1985, our oldest daughter Lauren was inducted into the IDF. Bonnie and I accompanied her to the recruiting station in Jerusalem where she and her fellow...Read more...

The IDF and Troubled Recruits

10/21/2020 09:23:49 AM


What can the IDF do about a disturbed soldier who wants out? This strange novel, which I reviewed for The Jerusalem Post this summer, tries to answer that question. 


Me Before 'Figs'

10/13/2020 05:37:31 PM


Aaron Leibel

Figs and Alligators begins with me at university about to meet Bonnie, who would become my wife. Sure, in a sense my life began then. It’s hard for me to remember being single — a lot of that proverbial water has passed under that acclaimed bridge since then — but there was life before...Read more...

Online interview

10/13/2020 05:07:03 PM


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How Much Should We Tell Our Children?

10/07/2020 10:19:15 AM


How much of our people’s troubles should we share with our kids? This children’s book, set in the time of the Jewish expulsion from Spain, provides an answer. more...

Kashrut --Israel Style

10/07/2020 10:06:48 AM


In the Diaspora, the subject kashrut — keeping kosher — is relatively simple. All Orthodox, some very traditional Conservative (such as at my synagogue, Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim in Silver Spring, Md.) and a few Reform Jews adhere to the dietary laws. (A few non-Jews, believing that kosher food is somehow cleaner or more healthy, eat food with kosher certifications, but, of course, keeping kosher is much more involved than just that. Eating...Read more...

The IDF is Great - But Not Perfect 

09/30/2020 12:00:00 AM


Israelis and Zionists in the Diaspora have reason to be proud of the Israel Defense Forces. Its victory in the War of Independence — despite being vastly outnumbered and outgunned by the Arab armies —deserves to be considered as a Bible-like miracle. 

The dismantling of the Arab world’s armies and the elimination of their air forces in six days in 1967 ranks as one of the outstanding military achievements of the 20th...Read more...

An Israeli Moment

09/30/2020 12:00:00 AM


If you are familiar with Israel, I almost will be able to hear you say, "Yeah, that's Israel, alright" when you finish reading this post.

Every year, when my wife and I visit our family in the Jewish state, we have a "yom Leibel," Leibel day, when the sons-in-law and the grandchildren are left at home and the daughters, Bonnie and I do something together.

A few years ago, we were visiting some of the spots in Jerusalem that...Read more...

Thu, March 30 2023 8 Nisan 5783