Jerusalem Review

From the Warsaw Ghetto to Israel’s Literary

As is time and again revealed when looking into the personal history of many
Israelis, reality is often stranger than fiction.

Literary critic and writer, Gabriel
(1934– ), Chairman of the Hebrew Writers Association, and editor
of The Jerusalem Review, was born in Poland to parents who were well-established
members of the Jewish elite. Moked’s father, a medical doctor who specialized
in blood diseases, had close ties to well-connected gentiles — a critical
element in the successful escape of Moked and his mother from the Warsaw Ghetto
in 1943. Moked’s father and uncle, also a doctor, stayed behind in the ghetto
– and did not survive. Mother and son, however, arrived in Palestine three
years later. They were warmly received by none other than Paula Ben Gurion,
the wife of soon-to-be Prime Minister David Ben Gurion, and a cousin of his

Although Moked did not know a word
of Hebrew when he arrived, he soon mastered the language. As was often practiced
by newcomers to Palestine, foreign names were Hebraicized. When researching
the origins of his family name — originally Munoz — Moked discovered that
his family originated in Portugal and had fled to Poland in the 17th Century.

Moked eventually became a leading figure in Israel’s cultural revolution
during the 1950s and 1960s. A new generation of Israeli writers was striving
to form an adequate, authentic and modern literary expression: Yehuda
and Aharon
are among the poets and novelists who contributed to this renaissance.

Jewish history and Hebrew texts, claims
Moked, indeed justify Thomas Mann’s description as “well of the past”, although
he is more concerned now with Israel’s present and future. “Hebrew literature
deserves to be better known abroad,” he says, “and by publishing The Jerusalem Review we hope to
make it so. Promoting Israel’s links with the Jewish world is of vital importance,
and one way of achieving it is by promoting a genuine cultural dialogue between


thanks to Lea Hahn, Managing Editor,
The Jerusalem Review.

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