Set against the diverse landscapes of Israel, Bastomski’s journey from Ivy League university to the Israeli army is a deeply personal memoir chronicling his journey out of grief and finally finding his own way back home. In storytelling vividly attuned to the land and its changing seasons, Bastomski finds solace and meaning with the help of a cast of strangers, brothers-in-arms, and finally family.
About the Book
In his final college semester, Ben awakens to read on his computer screen of the death of his classmate and childhood friend Avi. Avi’s death is sudden and senseless, killed by a drunk driver on his way back to his dorm. Here begins Ben’s story of coming to terms with loss and finding his way to adulthood.
In the fall of 2010, with his new degree in Moral Philosophy, Ben boards a plane to Israel to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Though Ben has never held a gun, before the next summer ends he is a trained sharpshooter. His service takes him from the Negev Desert to the Occupied Territories and Gazan border, all while finding “home” at a southern kibbutz where he is adopted as a brother and son. From Providence, Rhode Island to California and at last to Israel where Ben joins Mahal, the special set of non-Israeli-born Jews who volunteer in the IDF, he finds family where never expected, a place of his own in the Israeli mosaic.
In a memoir that is both coming-of-age story and epic ballad, Bastomski’s lyrically told story is intensely personal and ultimately universal.
Praise for As Figs in Autumn
As Figs in Autumn is a loving portrait on the unique experiences of a chayal boded, a lone soldier without immediate family in Israel. Ben Batomski depicts the struggles, the achievements, the moral ambiguities and the friendships that make one year in an endless war bearable, dare one say laudable. His focus is not on politics or ideology but on the real life of a lone soldier in a foreign land, yet one that is so much his own.
Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies
Director, Sigi Ziering Institute
American Jewish University
Los Angeles, CA
Of my many trips to Israel, my travels through Ben Bastomski’s deeply personal memoir, “As Figs In Autumn” took me to places that I have never visited ba’aretz; accompanied by grief, service, authentic choice and the growth that they inevitably both offer and force.
—Marra B. Gad, Award-winning author of The Color of Love: A Story of a Mixed-Race Jewish Girl
About the Author
Ben Bastomski, a Southern California native and Israel Defense Forces veteran, moved to Santa Monica, CA to practice law after graduating from Harvard Law School in 2015. In the years since, Ben has become an accomplished civil litigator, while pursuing a parallel career as a fashion model with a Los Angeles talent agency. He has recently returned to live in Israel.
Ben was raised in a Jewish home with a love of furry and feathered animals, creation myths, and the outdoors. Among his most beloved childhood memories were the signings he attended at his favorite local bookstore, Chaucer’s Books. As Figs in Autumn is his début book.
Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA
Residence: Tel Aviv, Israel
Author photo by A.J. Stetson