Photo Credit: Ariel Jerozolimski
Dvora Waysman

From Paper to Screen

In 1994, Dvora, now a syndicated journalist and teacher of creative writing, was approached by Feldheim Publishers to write a historical novel. Initially, hearing that Philip Feldheim wanted the novel set in Jerusalem one hundred years ago with a Yemenite heroine who was a jeweler and silversmith, Dvora declined because, quite simply, she knew nothing about the subject matters. “Then I heard about the generous advance and accepted,” she says, again with a laugh. Dvora began listening to Yemenite music and frequenting a Yemenite restaurant to familiarize herself with the culture. The Pomegranate Pendant, which chronicles the life of a young Yemenite woman who makes the journey to the Holy Land in the late 1800s, was published in 1995. A chance meeting with Robert Bleiweiss at a media conference led to the birth of the movie “The Golden Pomegranate.” It was filmed in Israel and premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2012.



The Muse

“Life is something that happens to you when you’re not looking and, when it touches you, often poems and stories appear like bruises,” writes Dvora in one of her many articles. It’s not surprising, therefore, that many of her books have a strong autobiographical element. “I aim for the heart,” says Dvora, “and I start with feelings, because feelings are universal.” These feelings are then woven together with her own experiences to create characters that people can grow to love. For example, her book Esther: A Jerusalem Love Story draws on the time she spent living in London and as a war correspondent during the first Lebanon War in 1982. “I had a son and son-in-law fighting there and I needed to keep an eye on them,” she says with a smile.

Similarly, the inspiration for Searching for Sarah, the novel that Dvora is currently working to complete, comes from the time she spent in a rented rooftop apartment near the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. “The previous tenant had left behind a painting of a girl gazing out of an expanse of blue and I’ve been intrigued by it ever since,” says Dvora.


Writing with Impact

“When I write, I don’t have a specific message I’m trying to impart through my characters,” says Dvora. How is it then that a dual message of kindness and compassion shines through? Perhaps, like a polished mirror, Dvora’s writing simply reflects her own essence. Gently, her words and scenes urge us to become giving people who strive to live with integrity. For example, in The Pomegranate Pendant, Mazal consistently acts with kindness and helps her brethren. In Esther, Dvora’s favorite novel, what could have been a regular love story ends with the protagonists choosing to remain forever apart. Commenting on the atypical ending of her novel, Dvora says, “Yes, it’s sad, but this is the correct ending and integrity demands it.”

As we end the interview, Dvora and I leave behind writing and books to discuss the recent horrific murders in Israel. When Dvora reaches out to hug me, we become two Jewish women bonded in compassion and kindness. Because Dvora doesn’t just write with impact…she lives with it.


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Rhona Lewis made aliyah more than 20 years ago from Kenya and is now living in Beit Shemesh. A writer and journalist who contributes frequently to The Jewish Press’s Olam Yehudi magazine, she divides her time between her family and her work.