Rescuing Haya

Confessions of an Eighth Generation Israeli Emigrant

By Shelly Spilka

Subjects: Women's Studies
Paperback : 9780791448700, 309 pages, March 2001
Hardcover : 9780791448694, 309 pages, March 2001

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Table of contents


Chapter One. Israel

Chapter Two. England

Chapter Three. Reuven

Chapter Four. Kenneth

Chapter Five. America

Chapter Six. Israel, Again

Selected Bibliography

The story of an Israeli woman's struggle to forge her personal and professional identity.


In this memoir, the author, an eighth generation sabra, speaks openly and honestly about her reasons for rejecting the Zionist vision and seeking her identity, her self-expression, and her freedom abroad. Left in an orphanage when she was five, the author takes us on a journey through exile and grief to redemption—the search and rescue of the orphan she once was—the child called Haya.

Shelly Spilka is Associate Professor in the Department of English and the Humanities at Western New England College.


"Born in Jerusalem before the Israeli state, Shelly Spilka, an eighth-generation Israeli, fluidly describes how she arrived at the decision to reject the principles of Zionism and to leave Israel for America. " — Publishers Weekly

"A gripping, lucidly written account of a woman striving to make a place for herself in a new culture and language while she explores with considerable courage her conflicted feelings about her homeland. Made concrete and convincing through powerful scenes of love and loss—early days in an orphanage, the tragic death of her young husband—the search for Haya tells a compelling story. " — Brenda Webster, author of Paradise Farm

"Rescuing Haya is the story of a young Israeli woman's struggle to forge her personal and professional identity amidst events that would be devastating to less tenacious individuals. It is a Bildungsroman, that is, a story about the growth and education of the artist. Shelly Spilka's disturbing memoir demonstrates how multicultural conflicts can be transmuted into moving art. " — Jeffrey Berman, author of Surviving Literary Suicide

"In elegant lyrical prose, sabra Shelly Spilka shares the intimate details of her search for self, homeland, language, love, reconciliation with a complex fractured family, and fulfillment of her tempestuous passions. As she makes her way in the world, we make our way through a unique Israeli psyche. " — Merle Feld, author of A Spiritual Life: A Jewish Feminist Journey