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Life Arts

Behind the Scenes with Hollywood Screenwriter, Robert Avrech

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We rescheduled our meeting.

Now, every time I see this producer, he jocularly wishes me a "happy Shmini Whatever".

Funny story! I'm glad being observant has not tripped you up. Besides writing screenplays, you have also written a kids' book. Can you tell us about that? 

The genre of Young Adult fiction has, over the past few decades, become infected and corrupted by the leftism that dominates the popular culture. YA fiction, once a safe and sane haven for moral teaching, has become just another vehicle whereby children are cruelly indoctrinated into a radical ideology. YA novels are now inordinately concerned with extreme forms of deviant sexuality, the myth of global warming/global freezing/ climate change/whatever they are calling the weather this week, food anxiety, and of course, the insistence of being tolerant towards intolerant ideologies such as Islamism.

On the other end of the spectrum, Jewish YA fiction, a more recent phenomenon, is almost entirely composed of narratives that must conform to rigid guidelines in order to be considered kosher. These novels are devoid of characters who bear any relation to living breathing human beings. The narratives are a string of soul-killing homilies that strip meaning from the very Judaism they purport to represent. Of course, classical romance--the driving force of all great storytelling--is entirely absent.

My novel, The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden, is a bid to restore to its rightful place an ethical and compulsively readable YA narrative. It's the story of a young Jewish boy and his relationship with an Apache girl, set against the grand landscape of the American frontier. It is a story of action, adventure, and a touchingly innocent romance. It is a tale of moral redemption, which has, until this ghastly post-modern, politically correct age, been the primary mission of the American novel. Children who have read my book love it. And their parents love me for writing it.

from 'The Devil's Arithmetic' which garnered an Emmy for Avrech
(image by Holly Stein/Showtime)

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I'm not familiar with Young Adult fiction so I can't speak about that. And we're going to have to agree to disagree about climate change, among other things. But I'm glad that there's still [or again] room for novels with "action, adventure, and" romance." Speaking of romance, you recently wrote a book about your wife. How did that come about?

Act one of my life, from childhood until age 26, was characterized by two passions:

1. My love of the movies.

2. And falling in love with Karen Singer, the rabbi's beautiful daughter.

I attended Yeshiva of Flatbush in Brooklyn. When I was 9 years-old, in fourth grade, a new girl transferred from Yeshiva Ohel Moshe to Flatbush. I spotted the new girl, Karen Singer, on that day during recess. She was standing all alone by the chain link fence with a white hankie pressed to her lips. She was the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. Instantly, I fell in love. This love/obsession animated my soul and my imagination for as long as I attended Flatbush, and continued through my childhood and young adulthood. 

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Karen was not only the prettiest girl in school, she was also whip-smart, and unlike the other alpha girls, Karen was modest and never played the cruel games that so characterize the pretty female creatures of that particular class. 

All this time, Karen did not know that I existed. Like my dream of becoming a Hollywood screenwriter, I also dreamed of Karen loving and marrying me. Both visions bordered on the delusional.

But at age 26, I spotted Karen at a Jewish street festival on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. My knees turned to liquid. My feelings for her were the same. I screwed up my courage and approached her. We talked and talked all afternoon. We started dating. I discovered that Karen was exactly whom I imagined. And when I told Karen of my Hollywood ambitions, she did not, like so many other Orthodox girls, dismiss my dreams as unrealistic. The opposite. Karen said: "I think that's wonderful. I have faith that you'll achieve exactly what you want."

What I wanted was Karen and Hollywood.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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