A Novel about Struggle and Perseverance in the Holy Land
Zar was raised in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem. But he breaks away from this insular world to pursue his dream of playing soccer professionally. During this journey he struggles with keeping his tradition and his faith alive as he joins the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and falls in love.
Egel, a kibbutznik, and Hajji, a Muslim, are young Israelis from very different backgrounds who share one thing in common with Zar: a passion for soccer. Their destinies intertwine as they become teammates on the Israel National Football Team, representing their tiny country in the World Cup. In the process they are forced to confront stereotypes and beliefs, contend with sometimes violent anti-Zionism and antisemitism, and endure nearly insurmountable setbacks and challenges.
From the ancient stone walls of Jerusalem’s Old City to an Israeli army base deep in the Negev Desert, a kibbutz set in an oasis of orange orchards and cotton fields and an Arab Israeli village in the Galilee, FIRST AMONG NATIONS captures the sights, sounds, tumultuous history and modern realities of Israel. This inspiring novel will open your eyes and warm your heart.
Published by Olive Blossom Press
Now Available on Amazon.com
FIRST AMONG NATIONS is the debut novel from Ira Mosen, a physician who fulfilled his lifelong dream and moved with his family to Israel in 2018. Through his interactions with Israelis of all backgrounds and religions, he observed an Israel that is markedly different from the one often portrayed in the media, with much grassroots desire for peaceful coexistence.
Praise for FIRST AMONG NATIONS
Ira Mosen has written a coming of age story that will resound with readers everywhere. He captures the complexities of family, religion, love and strength of finding one’s own identity through the game of football. He identifies the dreams of young men pitted against their religious and moral beliefs in the beautiful telling of a story which crosses the boundaries felt by so many, for so long. Country, faith, family collide as Zar and his teammates struggle to separate these from living their own lives. An uplifting story which ultimately leads us to the only conclusion it can: it does not matter your race, religion, colour, ethnicity, we all bleed the same colour red.
A wonderful and uplifting coming of age story that will resound with readers everywhere.”
— Heather Morris, author of the New York Times #1 bestselling book
The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Novels that inspire us or warm our souls capture a deeper truth. First Among Nations succeeds in offering a deeper truth about the challenges of different communities in Israel. The story of Zar and Hajji reminds us of not just their struggles to hold onto their identities but also their common humanity. In doing so, First Among Nations also reminds us of the real story of Israel.”
—Dennis Ross, Former American Peace Envoy to the Middle East
Mosen’s depictions of life in Israel are vivid and captivating. First Among Nations is an excellent, thought-provoking read.”
—Senator Joseph Lieberman
A triumphant debut about the rise of an Israeli soccer prodigy. The … story branches out from the sports narrative to offer nuanced takes on Arab-Jewish friendships and ethnic prejudice and explores the violence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…. Mosen’s bildungsroman will appeal to readers who like a feel-good yarn.”
The novel presents a multifaceted Israel far more complex than often portrayed globally…First Among Nations blends sports with religion and Mideast and world politics, and the book’s characters become enmeshed with each other in all three dimensions….I found myself caught up in the tension of the soccer matches and the heroism and feats of the protagonists….Those of us who like to dream of better times ahead and who like a quick, good, and … inspirational read, will enjoy this book.”
—Alan Rosenbaum, The Jerusalem Post
Ira Mosen’s fabulous book, First Among Nations, not only brings the game of soccer to life in Israel but weaves the brilliant story of Zar’s struggle as an Ultra Orthodox Jew in the modern day State of Israel. Leaving his family behind to become a “Lone Soldier” in the Israel Defense Forces, Zar finds the love of his life, Tikvah, and his crew of friends as they take an unforgettable journey that leads to the championship game of the World Cup held in… Germany. Mosen expertly tells the tale of the young Zionist country with its challenges in cliffhanging fashion with plenty of surprises. You won’t want to put this book down!”
—The Sports Rabbi Joshua Halickman, SportsRabbi.com
The Jerusalem Post
First Among Nations delves into the hearts and desires of those living in modern Israel. This story of several young soccer players paints a vivid picture of the interaction between the diverse cultures and religions. The reader will come away with a much better understanding of the complexities of living in a true melting pot, the dangers of anti-Semitism, and the richness gained through understanding and appreciation for one another.”
—Phil Markwardt, Executive Director, Operation Exodus USA
An inherently compelling and thoughtful novel by an author with an impressive flair as a novelist for originality and the kind of narrative-driven storytelling that is engagingly entertaining from first page to last, First Among Nations by Ira Mosen is… extraordinary and unreservedly recommended.”
—Midwest Book Review