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Haifa
City of Steps
Nili Scharf Gold




Brandeis
2017 • 280 pp. 30 illus., 6 maps 6 x 9"
Biography - Writers / History of Israel & Palestine / Jewish Studies


$29.95 Hardcover, 978-1-5126-0118-3

$24.99 Ebook, 978-1-5126-0119-0

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.



A rich look, from a native daughter, at the evolving relations of people, architecture, and landscape in Haifa over several decades

Nili Gold, who was born in Haifa to German-speaking parents in 1948, the first year of Israeli statehood, here offers a remarkable homage to her native city during its heyday as an international port and cultural center. Spanning the 1920s and ’30s, when Jews and Arabs lived together amicably and buildings were erected that reflected European, modernist, Jewish, and Arab architectural influences, through 1948, when most Arabs left, and into the ’50s and ’60s burgeoning of the young state of Israel, Gold anchors her personal and family history in five landmark clusters.

All in the neighborhood of Hadar HaCarmel, these landmarks define Haifa as a whole. In exquisite detail, Gold describes Memorial Park and its environs, including the border between the largest Jewish and Arab neighborhoods in Haifa; the intersection of Herzl and Balfour Streets, whose highlight is the European/Middle Eastern Technion edifice; Talpiot Market, recalling Haifa as a lively commercial hub; Alliance High School and the Great Synagogue, the former dedicated to instilling a love of intellectual pursuits, while the synagogue was an arm of the dominant Israeli religious establishment; the Ge’ula Elementary School and neighboring buildings that played a historical role, among them, the Struck House, with its Arab-inspired architecture—all against the dramatic backdrop of the mountain, sea, and bay, and their reverberations in memory and literature.

Illustrated with more than thirty-five photographs and six maps, Gold’s astute observations of the changing landscape of her childhood and youth highlight literary works that portray deeply held feelings for Haifa, by such canonical Israeli writers as A. B. Yehoshua, Sami Michael, and Dahlia Ravikovitch.

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Reviews / Endorsements



“Nili Scharf Gold’s knowledge of and love for her city suffuse every page of this beautifully written and impeccably researched book. Her interweaving of the great literary works set in Haifa with the city’s history and with her own poignant recollections about growing up there is brilliantly and movingly done, and her incisive analysis of these works and their relationship to the city is an original piece of scholarship, and a true contribution to the literature of cities.”—Robert Caro, two-time Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Power Broker and The Years of Lyndon Johnson

“As someone who made Haifa home for over forty-three years and for whom Haifa served as a beloved heroine in his novels, it was my unique pleasure to read Nili Gold’s book about her hometown. In this original and moving book, the author weaves childhood memories into historical and architectural analyses of significant landmarks, while as literary scholar she succeeds in creatively reinterpreting key passages of prose and poetry that unfold in Haifa. Haifa symbolizes Israeli normalcy at its best, and this important book proves it convincingly.”—A. B. Yehoshua, Israel Prize Laureate and author of The Lover

“Nili Gold has created a fascinating tapestry of visual, literary, and historical insights into Haifa’s Hadar neighborhood, the heart of Israel’s city of multiple cultures. This is a labor of love, a book that you will find hard to put down. . . . A must-read.”—Ron Robin, president, University of Haifa

“Despite its relatively modest size, Haifa: City of Steps is a magical book of immense proportions. Nili Gold’s writing is a smooth latticework and the book is a treasure trove of facts, photographs, memories, architecture, and literature. . . . It tells the story of my own childhood streets . . . where Haifa’s uniqueness as a city of peace and plurality was cultivated. Haifa’s stark beauty, its landscapes and landmarks, became a part of me and a part of Nili Gold, the city’s soulful tour guide. . . . This work is a perfect portrayal of Haifa.”—Yona Yahav, mayor of Haifa

“Like exquisite transparencies, Nili Gold has overlaid her analysis of the unique architectural landscape of Haifa, and the literature that was written in and about Haifa, across a study of its history. To these the author added a singular personal perspective of someone who came of age in the city during the 1950s and ‘60s to produce a wonderful multilayered composition. The book is in a genre of its own: the story of a city special not only for its topography—with its feet in the sea and its head in the heights of Mount Carmel—but also for its human and social diversity, and for the good relations that persist between Jews and Arabs until today. Above all, Haifa: City of Steps is a book about the deep and intimate connection between human beings and the place that begat them.”
Judith Katzir, award-winning author of Zillah and Closing the Sea



NILI SCHARF GOLD is an associate professor of modern Hebrew literature at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Not Like a Cypress (Hebrew) and Yehuda Amichai: The Making of Israel’s National Poet.



Sat, 2 Dec 2017 12:27:40 -0500