Monsieur Maurice Havivel (The meaning in Hebrew is "Beloved by god") immigrated to Israel from the island of Djerba - off the shores of Tunisia.
Deep in his heart he kept the secret of the flying Jews, who had come two thousand years ago to that remote spot, carrying on their wings a door from the destroyed Temple in Jerusalem.
In a small village full of orchards, in Israel of the early 1950's, Monsieur Maurice agreed at last to reveal the long guarded secret and teach young Hadara how to fly.
Hadara is enchanted by this stranger who makes a living as a simple shoe-maker in a place where everything is "one and only". Losing her mother at an early age and living in a provincial community where she is constantly being watched had made Hadara a lonely vulnerable child, seeking consolation by leaning on her imagination.
The friendship Monsieur Maurice offers her is a key to a magical world where she at last feels that she belongs.
From the top of the trees, under the evasive blue of the sky, Hadara had spread her arms and jumped, only to find out that one starts by taking off but must face the inevitable fall.
"Flying Lessons" is the story of people who lost their home and make a brave attempt to build a new one. It is a book about immigrants, survivors and dreamers who desperately hold on to their inner treasures and try to find hope even under tragic circumstances. Despite cruel memories of the past and bitter reality, they live a new fantasy in the land of their dreams.
"Everybody first learns to fly in their sleep. I'm sure it was mine that I took off from the ground for the first time. The trouble with most people is that they wake up in the morning and forget the night. They're still glued to the earth as if nothing had happened."
The book was published in Israel by Am Oved Publishing House 1990.
New Edition - Yediot Achronot Publishing House 2002.
USA - Simon & Schuster 1995.
Germany - Elefanten Press 1995.
Germany - Belz Und Gelberg 2001.
Italy- Mondadori 1997.
Czech Republic - Albatros 1998.
Spain - Loguez 1998.
Holland - Fontein 1999.
Serbia - Book & Marso 2008.
Opera based on the book, with music by Ella Milch-Sheriff, upcoming 2010.