A poetic and unusually constructed memoir, THE SOUND OF HER VOICE, is Sara Gelbard’s story of her experience growing up on one of the first kibbutzim in Israel and how she was forced to repress her individuality, and the self-expression of a normal childhood. This book sensitively follows her personal journey through life from Israel to New York and Uruguay, and gives voice to how she finally created a home for herself and in her heart, and healed what she lost.
Paperback: 172 pages
Publishing date: July 22. 2020
Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
Price: $19.60 (paperback), $27.10 (hardcover) $7.99 (e-book)
Sara Gelbard is a woman of three homes – Israel, New York, and Punta del Este in Uruguay. This may be because she never had a home. She was born in one of the first Israeli kibbutzim in Western Galil near the Lebanon border, of Polish parents who escaped the tremendous horror of Europe. They escaped, but their families did not, and consequently, their commitment to the kibbutz was ideological, necessary, and fueled by a broken heart.
The first kibbutzim were the most stringent in their rules – mothers only allowed in at feeding times – and 24 children in each Children’s House, with only one circulating guardian at night. The children were taught to be little soldiers, and performed their duties, and needs and emotions were discouraged. For a sensitive individualistic person, like Sara, this became a burden that would later haunt her. She excelled in the kibbutz, in the Israeli army (in her case, becoming a Navy officer), at a Tel Aviv Movement and Dance School, and teaching at the College of Sde Boker (where Ben Gurion lived.) She excelled but carried a tremendous loneliness and sadness of having lived without real connection or having been given the gift of self-expression. The army offered more self-expression than the kibbutz. Even with her excelling at the kibbutz, she was denied by them her second year of college, because they deemed her too independent. With that, she left.
After the Six Day War, when all Israel was celebrating, Sara decided to enroll in the Martha Graham Dance School and moved to New York. There she went through the struggles of an immigrant with language, finding work, although she was helped by a dear friend also from Israel, and by a philosophical psychoanalyst who ran seminars on the interior life. This saved her and opened the inner life to her. She got her BA in Economics from Fordham, became a successful real estate broker, selling homes to others, which was a form of reparation. She married her Uruguayan husband (then in New York) who became her first “home.”
At seventy, she was walking in the beautiful Punta del Este, with its ocean on two sides, and that little girl’s voice, who never could be heard, or speak of what she felt, bubbled up. THE SOUND OF HER VOICE is Sara’s exploration of what it was like to live in this unfeeling world as a child, the healing in writing, what her three homes are to her, how marriage healed her, and, ultimately, how she came to understand and forgive how her mother could, in her way, give her away. Sara sprinkles her book with haikus that go to the heart of such a journey. The entire book speaks to all of us who have a voice inside us that must be listened to if we want to open our hearts.