The Lonely Tree

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Lonely Tree cover
Jewish Fiction
Historical Fiction (British Mandate Palestine and State of Israel 1934-1967)
Published by Holland Park Press, London
444 pages
Price: eBook $3.00, paperback £14.99
ISBN: 978-1-907320-08-8

Purchase: AMAZON   Holland Park Press

Book Description
1944, British Mandate Palestine, Tonia’s parents take her and her brother and sister to live on Kfar Etzion, an isolated and struggling religious kibbutz south of Jerusalem. Fifteen-year-old Tonia does not believe that her father’s dream of establishing a Jewish state will ever come to be. Life on the kibbutz is harsh, and Tonia dreams of security and a little comfort, though material wealth for its own sake is not what she longs for. She wants something simple – to be able to bring up her own children under a roof of her own, in a place where they won’t feel constantly threatened.  She is determined to seek this different life in America, as soon as she is old enough – even though that means turning her back on her love for Amos Amrani, a handsome young Yemenite who belongs to the Jewish underground.

Much of this novel takes place in Kfar Etzion, during its establishment, siege, and fall to the Arab Legion during hostilities immediately prior to Israel’s War of Independence – resulting in the massacre of its surviving defenders.  A later part of the story is set in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Tonia tries to find her new life.

This is one of very few English novels that take place in British Mandate Palestine and the only one that tells the story of Kfar Etzion. While the characters are fictional, historical events are accurately portrayed.  The Lonely Tree, however,  does not read like a history book. It is a character-driven love story with no political agenda.

The Lonely Tree of the title still stands today.

The Lonely Tree – Then and Now

The Real Lonely Tree - 1940s  Lonely Tree 1

From the Author
small green shirtSoon after moving  to Israel, I lived on kibbutz Ein Tsurim, near Ashkelon. Ein Tsurim was originally one of the settlements in Gush Etzion (the Etzion Bloc) south of Jerusalem. In every home in the kibbutz there were books and pamphlets about what had happened in Gush Etzion. Several of the members had lived there, taken part in the battles, and returned from captivity in Jordan. So I knew the story of Kfar Etzion. At least I knew the chronology of events.

It wasn’t until years later that I took pause to really think about the lives those people had lived. At the time I was living in Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip, and the first Intifada had begun. The roads were unsafe, and we heard rioting in Khan Yunis every day. During the darkest period, almost every week we learned that another of our neighbors had been murdered, often by someone who had worked for them for years. But still, we felt relatively safe because we knew the IDF was there. I tried to imagine coming to live in a place like that back when there was no Israeli army – only a handful of youngsters with obsolete weapons, little ammunition, and less training. I looked for a dramatized account of their story and was astonished to find that no one had written one.

I studied all of the historical accounts and visited the museum in Kfar Etzion, where there is a wealth of letters, minutes of meetings, etc. I chose not to interview any of the people who had actually been there, not wanting anyone to think that a particular character of mine had been based on a member of their family. There was no family like the Shulmans in Kfar Etzion. There were no adolescent children like Tonia.

Tonia has been proven “wrong.” People like her father did succeed in what seems like a miracle, Sometimes I wanted to hit her over the head; but I understand her completely.

Media Kit and Press Release

2009 YWO Book of the Year Award
2012 Eric Hoffer Award for General Fiction, Honorable Mention

Amazon Customer Reviews
Goodreads Reviews
Reviews in Other Media

Author Interview in Gushpanka, Local Gush Etzion News Magazine
Glossary of Terms Used in The Lonely Tree
Kfar Etzion – Resources and Photographs

The Lonely Tree

Water color of The Lonely Tree by Harriet Goitein

Books & Literature Blogs - Blog Rankings


15 Responses to The Lonely Tree


    Dreaming of another book continuing Mourning and Olivia. I believe there is a lot of that in our history and this was Before the Civil War. Did Mourning Or Charlie fight for the north then?


  2. Sharon Crossfield says:

    I read Olivia, Mourning. Please tell me that there is going to,be a third book in this series. I want to know who killed the neighboring farmers who raped Olivia. I know that that is truly the way the world is–hateful, mean, harsh. But I kept hoping for a happy ending. I also read The Lonely Tree. Yael’s books are fantastic. I only wish I could read them all over again for the first time.I know that The Lonley Tree was a book of fiction, but really the Jews have been horrendously mistreated by the world. This book of fiction is based on true events–like what Arabs did to the bodies of murdered Jews. I can’t wait for more books to be written! Write, woman, write!


    • yaelpolitis says:

      Hi Sharon, Thanks for that truly enthusiastic feedback. I am writing the third Olivia book and I will let you know when it is available. Yael


  3. rosie says:

    I couldn’t put this book down, and read it in one sitting. I am a history buff and have a special interest in this time period in the Middle East. Bravo, bravo, bravo. I usually don’t read fiction, but I am so glad I did this which is outstanding in historical detail. Please write more books on the early days of modern Israel in formation!


    • yaelpolitis says:

      Hi Rosie, I have finished a second novel. I know you will not be pleased to hear that it is not about Israel, but takes place in the American Midwest in the 1840s. But after this book – and a sequel to it that is almost finished – I promise the next one WILL be about Israel. I have entered it into a contest on Amazon and if you would be interested in and have the time to read an excerpt and rate and review it on Amazon, that would be great. On the right-hand menu, under Pages, is a link to a page explaining the contest and how to access and rate the excerpt of my novel, Olivia, Mourning. All the best, Yael


    • yaelpolitis says:

      Rosie, I don’t seem to have any contact information for you. If you’re interested in a free digital copy of Olivia, Mourning, please send an email address to


  4. Dan Saar says:

    Yael, as a grandson of one of the survivors of Gush Etzion were taken to prisoner of war camps in Jordan. I was fascinated from the most of the events and the characters in the sensational Lonely Tree story.


    • yaelpolitis says:

      Hi Dan,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. It means a lot to hear from readers, especially those who have a personal connection. Can I ask how you came across it?


    • yaelpolitis says:

      Hi Dan, I thought you might like to know that I have finished my second novel and entered it in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. See the link to the contest in the Pages sidebar if you would like to know more about it. This novel is not about Israel, but takes place in the Midwest in the 1840s.


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