“I understand in the depths of my being that the one and only healthy place for a Jew – physically, mentally, and spiritually – is in Israel,” writes former Hollywood screenwriter Tzvi Fishman in his newly published autobiography.
By Atara Beck
Decades ago, prolific author Tzvi Fishman – then known as Kenneth Harris Fishman, or simply Ken – was an assimilated American Jew and a successful screenwriter living a carefree, bohemian lifestyle.
One of Fishman’s best-known films is Law and Disorder (1974), starring Ernest Borgnine and Carroll O’Connor. He also taught screenwriting at New York University.
One fateful day, as he recalls in his recently published autobiography, From Hollywood to the Holy Land, a close friend asked him a question that changed his life forever: “Why don’t you know anything about Judaism?”
“I know about Judaism,” he responded.
However, “I instantly sense that he is right. I know absolutely nothing about the very thing that is closest to me – my own religion! I had studied almost everything there was to study…but nothing at all about Judaism and being a Jew.”
Based in America and Israel, From Hollywood to the Holy Land covers Fishman’s life until his Aliyah and subsequent engagement to his Israeli-born wife. The master storyteller, combining depth with humor, describes his personal search for truth and meaning while also portraying life in the Diaspora, the American Jewish establishment, and Gush Emunim [“Bloc of the Faithful”), an Israeli national-religious movement advocating settlement and sovereignty in the Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria following the 1967 Six Day War.
Fishman, who lives in Jerusalem, is a recipient of the Israeli Minister of Education Award for Creativity and Jewish Culture. One of his best works is a three-volume series of historical fiction – Tevye in the Promised Land, Arise and Shine, and The Lion’s Roar – starring iconic Yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem’s beloved milkman Tevye of “Fiddler on the Roof” fame.
In this trilogy, which covers the history of modern Zionism, Tevye moves with his family from Anatevka to the Land of Israel during the Ottoman rule and becomes a passionate, pioneering religious Zionist. A page-turner, the series is a wonderful educational source, teaching about the greatest personalities in modern Jewish history – David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Joseph Trumpeldor, and more – while taking the reader on an unforgettable journey.
Fishman, a married father of seven, is also a blogger on Israel National News. He served in the IDF two years after making aliyah in 1984 and studying Torah and Talmud at a Jerusalem yeshiva.
‘I continue to write, trying to bring the Jewish People closer to Torah and Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel],” he told United with Israel. Most of his books are available on Amazon.