Categorized | Reiss_Fred

Nazis, Templars novel set during Israel’s independence battle

Foxes in the Vineyard: Templars, Nazis, and the Battle for Jerusalem by Michael J. Cooper, iUniverse, Inc., Bloomington, IN; ISBN 978-1-4620-6308-6 ©2011, $18.95, p. 275

By Fred Reiss, Ed.D

Fred Reiss, Ed.D

Fred Reiss, Ed.D

WINCHESTER, California Foxes in the Vineyard, the 2011 grand prize winner of Indie, a book contest sponsored by independent publishers, is a work of historical fiction that blends the treasure of the Knights Templar with the Nazis and the Battle for Jerusalem, which occurred from November 30, 1947 to June 11, 1948.

Foxes in the Vineyard opens with a prologue telling of a secret Nazi airdrop of redeploying troops in Tunisia in March 1943 and the removal of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, known as the Desert Fox, from his position. The reader is left to ponder this covert operation as the author moves on to tell his story, which occurred during nine grueling days in Jerusalem, in April 1948, less than a month before the British Mandate for Palestine ended.

It is during these nine days, that father and son archeologists—one searching for the lost treasure of the Knights Templar, a wealthy order of medieval knights, guardians of Christian Jerusalem and the other searching for his missing father—come face-to-face with powerful remnants of defeated Nazi Germany, who likewise seek the lost Templar treasure in an effort to annihilate both Arab and Jew, regain their lost honor, and rule the world. As the tale weaves from the Old City of Jerusalem to West Jerusalem and back again, we discover that some friends are foes and some foes are actually friends. Against the backdrop of Jordan’s Arab Legion soldiers fighting members of Haganah, a pre-Israeli Jewish paramilitary force, we learn that the Templar’s treasure has been found and a bargain made with the Nazis to retrieve it. But, the treasure is not what anyone expects.

Along the way, Cooper provides interesting information about Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, and the existence of the lamed-vav, the belief that the world survives because at any given moment at least thirty-six righteous people are alive. What is unusual about this idea is that a lamed-vavnick, doesn’t even know he is one. Cooper also draws on his extensive knowledge of East and West Jerusalem, having lived in Israel from 1966 to 1977, to create vivid and memorable scenes.

Foxes in the Vineyard is one of those uncommon Jewish historical-fiction stories that successfully overlays Jewish mysticism with kernels of historical truth to tell a very satisfying tale.


Dr. Fred Reiss is a retired public and Hebrew school teacher and administrator. He is the author of The Standard Guide to the Jewish and Civil CalendarsAncient Secrets of Creation: Sepher Yetzira, the Book that Started Kabbalah, Revealed; and a fiction book, Reclaiming the Messiah. The author can be can be contacted via  [email protected].


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