Necessary Stories by Haim Watzman: The Book!

A collection of twenty-four of the best of the more than 150 short stories Haim Watzman has published since 2008, first in The Jerusalem Report and now at The Times of Israel. All are archived here on South Jerusalem .

These stories are about Jewish and, in particular, Israeli life, both today and in the past are funny, meditative, and sad, set in immigrant camps, the army, and in Haim’s own neighborhood in south Jerusalem.

“All but one of these stories are relatively short … Yet anyone who sits down with this collection will come away with a sense of something much larger–a multifaceted impression of what it’s like to make a life in a place where the prosaic mixes with the fantastic; history, politics, and philosophy are around every corner, and each encounter with a stranger holds the potential to show you the world from a fresh angle.”
—Janice Weizman, The Jerusalem Report\
Read the full Jerusalem Report Review

“Author Haim Watzman is a master of the tiny moment, the exact point in time that leaves an impression on the future … If you enjoy short stories, ‘Necessary Stories’ is a fine collection, filled with hints and hidden meanings. It’s a perfect choice for a Jewish book club whose members can discuss these stories for hours.”
— Rivkah Lambert Adler, Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2017
Read the full Jerusalem Post review

“Watzman writes with immediacy, attentiveness and empathy, whether he’s describing a pregnant feral cat he names Hagar, who makes her home in the dumpster of his Jerusalem building, or the best friend of the bride at a wedding, or his late son, who was killed in a tragic accident while serving in the IDF. Watzman … has a good ear for dialogue. The stories, layered with meaning, speak to his wide-ranging interests.”

Sandee Brawarsky, The Jewish Week/Times of Israel

“Watzman’s stories are a poignant mix of tragedy, suspense, and humor. They often take turns to the supernatural or surreal, and the readers must suspend their disbelief until reaching the conclusion of each story, when suddenly, with a gasp, they realize that they’ve suspended breathing as well.”

Etti Calderon, Jerusalism

“Haim Watzman has a unique sensitivity to the tiny human corners of Israel, a country that people love to talk about but rarely understand. Those of us who have followed his writing for many years have learned to love his clear prose, his awareness of the connections between people, and his descriptions of the presence of history and religion in their daily lives. These ‘Necessary Stories’ are just that—necessary for anyone trying to wrap their heads around the strange and gripping life of the Jewish state.” — Matti Friedman, author of Pumpkinflowers

“His stories detail the lives of ordinary Israelis, often touching on current events … The dialogue, though written in English, has the distinct feeling of Hebrew speech — that unmistakable combination of impatience and warmth.” — Naomi Zeveloff, Forward (from “The 100-Story Man Hits His Milestone”)

“Watzman knows that every encounter, no matter how fleeting—a conversation in a cemetery with a long-dead Talmudic sage; Felix Mendelssohn’s great aunt scolding the young prodigy; four Jews on a plane discussing the Bible, the Zohar and Wuthering Heights —is a matter of life and death. Necessary Stories is a quietly beautiful work, haunting in places, gently funny in others, written by a graceful, thoughtful, eloquent man who understands that life itself is not enough. One must live to tell the tale.” — from the Introduction by Joseph Skibell, author of My Father’s Guitar

With illustrations by Avi Katz
Cover design by Mizmor Watzman

Available on


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Support your local independent bookstore by ordering through Indiebound

Download discussion questions for Necessary Stories

About Writing Necessary Stories, from the ProsenPeople blog

Fiction on a Deadline
April 10, 2017

Talmud as Literature
April 12, 2017

A Picture’s Worth
April 14, 2017

A gallery of Avi Katz’s
illustrations for the stories in the book.

Times of Israel: The IDF is still a base for these two immigrant authors

I’d be happy to hear your thoughts about the book! Write to me at

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