The Fox Hunt – A gripping tale

The Fox Hunt – A Memoir of Yemen and my Odyssey to America (Harper Collins: New York, 2018) reads like an action novel based in the fundamentalist and extremist Muslim world. It tells the odyssey of a young Yemeni Muslim man, Mohammed Al Samawi, who dared to challenge the template of anti-Christian and anti-Jewish attitudes in which he was raised and risked his life to escape his beloved country of birth in the midst of its murderous civil war in 2015.

Mohammed was introduced to me by a colleague, Rabbi Beth Singer of San Francisco, when he moved to Los Angeles last month. She described him as “among the most extraordinary people I have ever met…. I ask you to meet him and, if you feel as I do, to introduce him to progressive Los Angeles Jews.”

Beth’s outreach and request intrigued me, and so I contacted Mohammed, set a date for coffee, and he told me his harrowing story. The New York Times Book Review called his book “A gripping account of terror and escape.” Indeed, it is.

Mohammed was born in the Old City of Sana’a, Yemen, raised as a devout Muslim, but developed doubts and secretly sought to understand the two religious traditions (Christianity and Judaism) that he was taught to hate. After reading secretly both the Jewish and Christian Bibles, Mohammed used the internet to find Jews to meet, traveled to Bosnia for a Muslim-Jewish conference, told his family and friends nothing of his inner quest and changing attitudes about Jews and Christians, and as civil war raged in Yemen he became a target of Al Qaida. He then desperately sought to escape from the country he loved.

Mohammed’s story was made possible by the generosity of Jewish and Israeli friends. He is the age of my sons (35) and so I felt a paternal tug of the heart as we spoke. His story is so compelling that it is about to be made into a major motion picture.

Mohammed aspires to set up homes in which Muslims, Christians, and Jews live, work, learn, and affect compassionate change in their communities together thus uniting the ethical traditions of the three great monotheistic faiths while preserving each tradition’s integrity and faith traditions. He remains a religious Muslim.

I recommend highly The Fox Hunt. I suspect you will be as inspired by Mohammed’s story as I was.

About the Author
John L. Rosove is Senior Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles. He is a national co-Chair of the Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet of J Street and a past National Chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA). He serves as a member of the Advisory Council of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism. John was the 2002 Recipient of the World Union for Progressive Judaism International Humanitarian Award and has received special commendation from the State of Israel Bonds. In 2013 he was honored by J Street at its Fifth Anniversary Celebration in Los Angeles. John is the author of 3 books - "From the West to the East - A Memoir of a Liberal American Rabbi" (2024), "Why Israel Matters - Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to the Next Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove" (Revised edition 2023), and “Why Judaism Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation with an Afterword by Daniel and David Rosove” (2017). All are available at John translated and edited the Hebrew biography of his Great Granduncle – "Avraham Shapira – Veteran of the Haganah and Hebrew Guard" by Getzel Kressel (publ. by the Municipality of Petach Tikvah, 1955). The translation was privately published (2021). John is married to Barbara. They are the parents of two sons - Daniel (married to Marina) and David. He has two grandchildren and he lives in Los Angeles.
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