Monday, January 31, 2022

From Hollywood To The Holy Land: A Spiritual Odyssey, Book Review

We live in strange times. The media keeps hyping a television reality show that follows a formerly religious Jew who traded a life of mitzvot for money, traif and fame, and here I am reviewing another autobiography/memoir about a Jew who discovered that a life of Torah and mitzvot in the Holy Land has literally saved his life, From Hollywood To The Holy Land: A Spiritual Odyssey, by Tzvi Fishman*. You can read my review of Miranda Portnoy's Making Meaning Out of Madness: A Jewish Journey, here. What should I call this genre?

Fishman wasn't trying to escape a life of disappointments, failure and/or poverty when became interested in Judaism. He was a Hollywood success, scriptwriter of movies that had made it to the screen, a published novelist, friends with celebrities and could get any woman he wanted besides "invitations" from those he didn't. And if he had wanted a "quieter life," his father would have set him up in business in The Virgin Islands. Most people would call that "the American Dream."

But suddenly Fishman's body began to rebel and he developed severe ulcerative colitis. The treatment is steroids, which made him swell up, and as soon as he finished the prescribed period of treatment, the bleeding returned. This pattern went on for months and months, wreaking havoc with his life.

Fishman tried all sorts of cures, diets, Indian master swami, yoga, holistic medicine and more, but none helped his body heal.

Then his buddy Daniel asked a simple innocent question:

"Why don't you know anything about Judaism?"

Fishman realized that it was true. Over the years he had studied all sorts of academic subjects, philosophies and trendy ideologies, but his knowledge of actual Judaism was virtually non-existant. Slowly he began to search and learn. Later on bit by bit he took on various mitzvot, and his ulcerative colitis became history. 

I can't do justice to Fishman's amusing way of describing his journey to Torah Judaism and life in Israel. You really must read it all in his own words. In person Fishman is as entertaining as his book. For a few years he lived across the street from us in Shiloh, and I know the family well. But Fishman never talks about his past, only the present and plans for the future. So it was a real eye-opener to read From Hollywood To The Holy Land

In addition to the great story, there are lots of photos helping the book truly come to life. We get to see what Tzvi looked like way back when, scenes from his former life and people and places mentioned in From Hollywood To The Holy Land.

From Hollywood To The Holy Land is highly recommended. It's very well written and the story comes to life, yes, like a movie...

*Yes, this is the same Tzvi Fishman who wrote "Arise and Shine," More Adventures with Tevye and many other more serious books.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (August 23, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 248 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1082429406
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1082429408

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