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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 to see you there.

First, on Sunday, March 7, at 11 am, I will be appearing virtually at Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim for the official “publication party” and reading. Attendance is free, but you must register here ( You may also order books in advance through the link, and I will be happy to sign every one.

It also is available to pre-order on Kindle, or in paperback from your favorite local bookstore, Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

If you are not a morning person, I will also be appearing the following week at another virtual book reading, at Brooklyn’s East Midwood Jewish Center on March 16 at 7:30 pm. You can see more information  at ( It is also free; please register by emailing

It would be great to see you at one of these readings … or at both!

And if you belong to an organization where I could make an appearance, or even a book club, let me know.

The reaction to the book has been really gratifying; it is great to see that people are enjoying it. In coming weeks, an excerpt from Figs will be featured on the Tablet website, which I know many of you read, and a piece I wrote related to Figs will appear in the Jewish Forward newspaper. Many other papers in the Jewish press have told my publisher that they will be reviewing the book, and I will let you know what they say.

And on March 2, at 11:05 am, PatZi Gil will interview me on her nationally syndicated “Joy on Paper” radio show, so tune in if you can.

You can see the reviews so far, following my signature line. It is really nice that after all this work, people enjoy the book.


Reviews for Figs and Alligators:

[A] REMARKABLE INTRODUCTION TO A COMPLEX COUNTRY. An American recounts the years he spent living in Israel with his family and the evolution of the country in this memoir. When Leibel met his wife, Bonnie, a move to Israel seemed very unlikely. She hailed from a solidly Protestant family, and while he was Jewish, he was ‘completely detached from the Jewish people.’ But in the aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967, Bonnie felt a wave of sympathy and solidarity for Israel, converted to Judaism, and decided—she had an ‘extremely adventurous soul’—that they should relocate there with their two daughters…. Leibel recalls his eventful experiences there — he lived in Jerusalem as well as on a kibbutz, where he worked at an apple orchard…. He served in the Israel Defense Forces for 14 years and … was recruited to become a spy by Israeli intelligence. The author leads readers on an astute tour of Israel’s metamorphosis from a ‘Third World country with a First World military establishment’ to a ‘start-up nation’ that was the ‘most important technological center in the Middle East.’ Leibel’s story is … brimming with historical drama. He lived in Israel during the Yom Kippur War, the nation’s peace with Egypt, and the first intifada. This is a remarkable introduction to a complex country, personally charming and historically edifying. A thoughtful and thorough explication of a turbulent nation.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Aaron Leibel’s Figs and Alligators is a wonderful journey through the forgotten Israel of the 1970s and 80s — poorer, more tight-knit, rougher at the edges — and is spiced with just the right mix of nostalgia and irony.” —Gershom Gorenberg, senior correspondent, The American Prospect, author, Shalom, Friend: The Life and Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin

A WARM AND CANDID MEMOIR…. One of the many who tried living in Israel but did not ultimately make it his permanent home, he seems reconciled to the choices he made, and proves capable of recalling his years here with compassion, some healthy self-deprecation, and no little wisdom.” — David Horovitz, editor-in-chief, Times of Israel, author, A Little Too Close to God (2000) and Still Life with Bombers (2004)

When I first heard about Aaron Leibel’s “Figs and Alligators”, I was very anxious to read it since it coincides with many of the years I lived in Israel. I did not, however, think that I would be as affected by it as I was. All the memories of my years in Israel came rushing back and I laughed and I wept as I read. Simply written and conversational in tone, I could have been sitting in the same room with author Leibel and comparing notes. There is humor and pathos on every page but above all else is the author’s honest retelling of a time that is now gone; a time when idealism ruled and was often fulfilled.” —  Reviews by Amos Lassen

VIBRANT. The Leibels moved to Israel in 1972 (a process known in Jewish circles as ‘making aliyah’ or elevating oneself) and stayed until 1988, a span that is examined in a vibrant, tightly written work that animates history from the ground level. Deftly seasoned with humor, Figs and Alligators … charts the transformation of the Jewish State from a slow-moving, largely poor and mostly secular country to a prosperous, Western-oriented place, a ‘start-up nation’ known for its cutting-edge technology and world-class traffic jams, as well as its heightened religiosity.” — Richard Greenberg, author of Pathways: Jews Who Return (Jason Aronson Books)

A personal story of a family living day to day in a turbulent, beautiful nation.” — New Hampshire Jewish Reporter

DARKLY FUNNY. For western Jews who dream of living in Israel, Aaron Leibel’s darkly funny near day-to-day account serves as both warning and invitation…. Figs and Alligators makes abundantly clear that aliya is both nerve wracking and character building. From the peculiarities of employment to the almost masochistic joys of serving in the IDF, Leibel’s memoir of his metamorphosis into an Israeli is as otherworldly as it is a delight.” — Hesh Kestin, author of The Wrong Jew and The Siege of Tel Aviv

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Wed, February 8 2023 17 Shevat 5783