MJN: You have a degree in education and spent 26 years teaching English at a high-school. Incidentally, it was a career I had once contemplated. Then I realized that our educational system has become extremely bureaucratic and politically polarized and standardized, without much latitude for creativity. God help you if you deviate one step from the approved curriculum. At least that was my experience. I realize every state, every district is different. I imagine, your experience was a positive one. Otherwise you wouldn't have lasted 26 years. Do any of the frustrations I expressed ring a bell?
LLL: I also felt the strain of government bureaucracy, but what I did in my classroom was not an issue. Yes, there were certain curricular activities I was supposed to teach, but I had the latitude to do it my way. I loved every minute. I have been to my student's college graduations, weddings, baby-namings, and still reap the benefits.
MJN: Does your teaching tenure provide any kind of miniature marketing platform? Do you still stay in touch with some of your students and their parents, who would welcome a chance to read your book?
LLL: I have been retired eight years, yet my faculty has been a terrific support system by attending my book signings, liking my Facebook posts, and linking me to others.
MJN: Israel's position is rather controversial. That's what makes writing about it so interesting. No conflict - no story. Right? That being said, do you get annoyed when people ask you questions, "So what is your position on ____?" I am asking because I write about Irish history and the nationalistic movement, so there's always one person in the audience who asks me, "So whose side are you on?"
LLL: I have never been put on the spot. My story was more about conviction and loyalty than it was about one particular country. Every country has had their heroes.
MJN: In my experience, one thing that suburban Jewish Americans do not always realize is that Israeli culture is very different from their own. They romanticize their brothers and sisters in the Middle East. They even take that coveted trip to Israel in order to see the holy landmarks, expecting it to be an eye-opening experience. And it does end up being an eye-opening experience - but not in the sense that they had expected. Can you elaborate on that a bit?
LLL: I have been to many countries, but there is something about Israel that crosses the boundaries of one’s imagination. My experience was much more than I could have ever imagined. Three of the world's most influential religions were born there. Yes, there are problems there, but what country doesn't have problems? Look what Ireland endured for so long.
MJN: Can you recommend any films that touch upon the early days of modern Israel? I can think of one The Black Book. It does briefly show life in a kibbutz, though most of the film is set in Holland during WWII.
LLL: I'm not familiar with any film available in the US. That's why my book should be made into a film.