***2014 National Jewish Book Award Finalist for
Outstanding Debut Fiction*** *
**2015 Great Midwest Book Festival Winner***
Now or never, I sighed as I took down the last of the many journals my grandfather had given me. I had already spent years poring over the tiny Hebrew written 200 years ago during the Napoleonic wars by the mysterious author, Judah Halevi. My grandfather had been sure that these fragile old books would contain stories of his family’s heroes. Instead I had found mysteries. The journals were filled with codes, false names and vague places and dates.
This man, this Judah Halevi, eluded me still. He wrote these journals so he wanted us to know some truths about his life but yet he was afraid to reveal too much.
What was he trying to tell us across the centuries? I riffled the pages gently before I opened the last book he had labeled “Miscellany.” A folded paper fell out. A map…faded and drawn by hand—many places labeled with tiny Hebrew letters and an arrow pointing north labeled “To Prague” with a single Hebrew word: “Bereshit”—“In the beginning.” Then I saw the river’s distinctive S-shaped bend on the map. All of my grandfather’s tales of the old country centered on a village near such a curve in the river in Bohemia. I called my wife. “I am going back to the old country. I will find Judah Halevi at last.”