Literary Nonfiction. Jewish Studies. A TANGLED TREE: MY FATHER'S PATH TO IMMORTALITY begins in the summertime, as Aiyanna follows her father Moshe on their big adventures—living on a nude beach on Kauai, chasing the Grateful Dead in an old milk truck, offering prayers to the Wailing Wall, lighting candles in the Shabbas House in Massachusetts, which is always their base. Twelve years later and after years of distance, Moshe arrives at her door, barefoot, with a beard to his chest, a sage of Judah adorned in fine Indian silk. They have reunited with a shared vision: To record his life story and memoir. Born as a Polish Jew on the run from the Nazi invasion launching World War II, Moshe and his family barely escape the oncoming Holocaust. They find refuge on a kolhoz in Russia, return to Poland to encounter their deepest grief, move to a settlement in Israel, and eventually immigrate to Toronto. Despite his poverty and against the odds, Moshe becomes an academic, a Harvard professor, psychologist and rabbi. But by the age of 30, something inside him shifts, and he reaches for more. During the psychedelic intrigue of the '70s, he turns to a healer named Salvador, a man who gives him his first taste of LSD in a cathartic ritual. He travels to India, where a mystic named Osho introduces him to the love that heals. Across the world he seeks healing, traveling on an ever-morphing spiritual journey. Moshe fathers six children with five women. Aiyanna is his fourth, born out of wedlock to an astrologer with many names.
Moshe's epic personality, wisdom, stories, and memories suddenly collide into Aiyanna's life, filling her one- bedroom apartment, where they record together for a month, fighting, laughing, cooking dinners, ultimately rebuilding their lost relationship. When Moshe leaves, Aiyanna is left with a lifetime of pages to be written. But the book she writes is far from the reflection Moshe expected. Aiyanna's life experiences stand beside his; she writes of her siblings, their mothers, and the tangled nest of contention, love and disconnection between them all. From this portrayal, Moshe feels both betrayed and deeply wounded, confirmed that all women are only destined to hurt him. A TANGLED TREE is more than a memoir. It tells two conflicting but inseparable truths, painting a dynamic portrait of a man, of his parents' miraculous escape, of the six children he fathered, and of a daughter determined to tell their story, and carry it forward until the end.