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Israeli Author And Palestinian Nobel Peace Prize Nominee To Give Presentations In Forest Hills

Speaker Started Scholarship Foundation After Losing Three Daughters In Gaza Raid

The neighborhood will get a double dose of interesting talk in the upcoming weeks, as an internationally renowned Israeli author and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee from Palestine will participate in separate events at the Forest Hills Jewish Center, 106-06 Queens Blvd.

Meir Shalev, who won various international awards for his novel, The Blue Mountain, will discuss his latest work, My Russian Grandmother and Her American Vacuum Cleaner: A Family Memoir, on Sunday, Oct. 30, at 3 p.m. as part of the Central Queens YM & YWHA’s 16th Annual Author’s Café.

My Russian Grandmother, which is translated from Hebrew by Evan Fallenberg, tells the story of the stubborn, eccentric Grandma Tonia and the generation of Eastern European immigrants who created a new life in Nahalal, Shalev’s hometown and Israel’s first cooperative agricultural village in the Jezreel Valley.

Against all odds, Grandma Tonia, who left Ukraine in the 1920’s, kept an extremely clean house. Her life was complicated when a brother-in-law in the U.S. sent her a General Electric vacuum. She lived in a socialist experiment where even manicures were considered frivolous, but here was this enthralling gift, an obvious product of capitalism.

Expect inspiration on Sunday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m., when Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish discusses his life growing up in a poor family in a refugee camp in Gaza before becoming a doctor with Israeli and Palestinian patients.

Dr. Abuelaish, who will converse with Mark Rosenblum, director of Queens College Center for Jewish Studies, is best known for his response on Jan. 16, 2009, when Israeli shells hit his home during the Gaza War, killing three of his daughters and a niece. Instead of seeking revenge, Dr. Abuelaish reached out live on Israeli television, bringing his loss to Israeli audiences. In the two years since the attack, he has spoken around the world and created a foundation, Daughters for Peace, which provides scholarships for girls in the Middle East to study at the university level.

“We all owe it to this extraordinary man, Dr. Abuelaish, to come and hear his story and his message of peace, as he works to bridge the divide between peoples, to help open people on both sides to greater understanding of each other,” said Peggy Kurtz of the Central Y’s Hevesi Jewish Heritage Library. “Instead of turning to hatred, he is saying, 'Let my daughters be the last ones to die for peace.'"

Tickets to Shalev’s presentation, which will include dessert and coffee, are $18 in advance, $23 at the door. Tickets for the discussion with Dr. Abuelaish are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. For more information, try www.centralqueensy.org; (718) 268-5011, ext. 151; or pkurtz@centralqueensy.org.

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