Netflix but put Oz's memoir (the writer is pictured below) on your Kindle -- you won't be disappointed.
Gilad Kahana), the menacing anti-Semitism that forced both families to escape to Palestine, the U.N. creation of the Jewish state in 1948, the enveloping war by the Arabs to eradicate the new Israel, the comparative poverty and daily minutia of the Klausners in their poor Jerusalem neighborhood, and especially, the sad tale of Oz's mother who died of a drug overdose at age 38, a presumed suicide (see archive photo of the Klausner's below).
Amir Tessler) as she descended into morbid depression, dying when Amos was 12.
Both the memoir and the film, however, do draw a parallel between the dashed immigrant dream of a milk-and-honey Israel and Fania's decline. In an interview with David Remnick in The New Yorker, 11/8/04 upon the memoir's publication, Oz, (78 in 2017, Professor of Literature at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba and writer, novelist, journalist) tells Remnick, "European Zionist writing maintained that the moment the Jews set foot on Biblical soil they will be totally born again." The dream died and she died, Oz says, because for her Jerusalem was exile. Her new reality was alien.
It seems probable to me that lovely, literate, beautiful Fania had severe, likely undiagnosed and untreated depression -- neither the memoir nor the film appear to allow for this. Her insomnia and insufferable migraines were treated medically, leading to her overdosing and/or possible fatal mixing of pills. It is true that her mother and mother-in-law were harshly critical, that Amos's father Arieh, published author, brilliant and caring, was not the romantic partner of her fantasies, that daily life in Jerusalem was degrading compared to life as the child of a wealthy mill owner in Provno. But degradation and difficulty was true for them all, just as it is and has been for every immigrant who escapes oppression to start life over in a strange land. My own guess is that Fania's untreated mental illness made her incapable of dealing with adversity and even daily life.
Then there was the cult of cleanliness, fear of germs (Palestine seemed diseased and unsterile to the Europeans -- too Asiatic, primitive, lacking in minimal hygiene and culture) and the ever-present need to penny-pinch -- reading by the light of 25 watts rather than indulge in a 45 watt bulb. The apartment was crammed full of the sufferings of the human race, says Oz, the thick smells of boiled fish, carrot and pastries mingled with DDT and Lysol.
However family and friends were scholars and Nobel prize winners. Famous Great Uncle Joseph Klausner wrote the notorious "Jesus of Nazareth", describing Jesus as the most Jewish of Jews and consummate Jewish moralist. Klausner also ran for President of Israel, losing to Chaim Weizmann. Then, explains Oz, everyone was a poet or writer or scholar or world reformer -- those who had anticipated and escaped to Palestine before the Nazi's mowed down Europe. The Jews of the world were unwelcome, applying to emigrate and being turned down by many countries. In the end many had no other option than Palestine. (Oz remains pained by the injustice done to the resident Arabs and with wholehearted liberalism, favors a two-state solution.)
Portman captures bits of these immigrant lives and the tumult surrounding the birthing of the Jewish State. Below, a radio is set up and broadcasting to the street the General Assembly vote on the creation of the new State of Israel.
here for discussion of Joseph Klausner's "Jesus of Nazareth."
Note Two: press here for link to Gilad Kahana music video incorporating Barack Obama's "You are not alone" speech.