News & Events
Retired Hebrew Teacher Publishes Debut Novel
by Jen Coburn Communications
Story lauded as thrilling, passionate, and shocking
When most people reach their seventies, they think about slowing down and relaxing a bit, not launching a second career as a novelist. But San Diego resident Estee Perchik Sery has done just that with the recent release of THE SCENT OF HEAT, a coming of age story about a young Israeli woman who has an affair with a married man after the devastating loss of her mother to cancer. Set in Sery’s homeland of Israel in the 1950s, the story has been lauded as “thrilling, passionate, and shocking.”
The tightly crafted story centers around 19-year-old Ariella Paz, who is completing her mandatory service in the Israeli military when her mother succumbs to breast cancer. This is familiar terrain for Sery, who served in the state’s army during the Israeli-Arab “Six-Day War” in 1967. Sery’s mother also passed away from breast cancer, which is why the author is donating 100% of the proceeds from book sales to Camp Kesem, a nonprofit organization serving children who deal with a parent’s cancer.
Though Sery has a personal connection with the text, she insists the novel is in no way autobiographical. She smiles explaining that she and her husband, Joe, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on the publication day of her book. “The text is quite an authentic description of the time I grew up in Israel, in the 50s and 60s,” she says. “As Tel Aviv was still a small town in the 1950s, gossip flew in the air like feathers, never to be retrieved again. But young ears were attentive, and I’d heard of a young woman who had had an affair with a married man. It was quite unusual and stayed in my mind.”
The author left Israel after completed her service and spent 25 years in South Africa and immigrated to the United States in 1993. Upon her arrival in San Diego she began teaching Hebrew at Congregation Beth-Am, Chabad, Hebrew High, and San Diego Jewish Academy. When Jewish day schools in the United States introduced a new Hebrew Language program, written at Hebrew the University in Jerusalem, Sery was selected as one of eight mentors to help school staff and administrators in the United States adopt the program.
After Sery retired from her career as an educator, she decided to attempt what she once thought was impossible – writing a book in English. “I felt that I’d never conquer the English language as fully as the Hebrew,” she says. “All those years I’d been immersed in the Hebrew language through teaching, cut down on my English reading and writing by fifty percent.” She says this was far more daunting than her age. “When you publish a novel, you don’t think of your age. Feldenkrais’s mother, as well as Tony Bennet, started painting at 80 years old. If anything, my age motivated me. I figured, if not now, when?”