Lapid, Yair. “Memories After My Death: The Story of My Father, Joseph “Tommy” Lapid”, Thomas Dunne, 2017.
Last night I decided to begin reading Yair Lapid’s new book for about an hour before I went to sleep. Some six hours later, I was still reading and in fact, I never got to bed last night. I challenge anyone who reads the first chapter to be able to stop there. The prose is wonderful and Hillel Halkin’s translation is a work of art. Lapid paints a portrait of his father, Tommy, a man who had been a leading figure in the creation and the early days of the State of Israel.
Tommy was “a loved and controversial Israeli figure who saw the development of the country from all angles over its first sixty years.” He had already seen his father taken away to a concentration camp. He came to Israel at the birth of the country and he lived through every major Jewish incident for the next 60 years. He was a uniquely unorthodox man and his politics were neither left nor right, he was a secular Jew and he exposed many of the contradictions of life in Israel. He said exactly what he thought and never hid or changed his own truth. He was never too embarrassed to say that he regretted something and while many saw him s harsh, he was actually a very warm person filled with emotion.
This is a different kind of autobiography in that his son writes in his name. We do not have autobiographies in which the a son writes about his father in the first person. What makes this even more difficult is that the father is a large than life character. Lapid does this with the love that a son has for his father. Tommy Lapid survived the Holocaust, went to Israel from Yugoslavia as a Hungarian Jewish refugee and became a minister in the Knesset of his new country. We see the son’s love for his father in every line. I was familiar with the name Tommy Lapid but did not know much else about him. For his son to write this as if it is being dictated from the grave is very special. I laughed and I cried while I read and I do not regret losing a night’s sleep for a second. Here is the story of a man who was able to triumph over human tragedy. The book has just opened the door for me and now I am planning to do some more extensive reading of anything I can find about Tommy Lapid.