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NL: Hi everyone! My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is the Inspiration Show. Today on the show I have a special guest, author of a new book called “Bashert” and I’m sure that he will be going into explaining what that actually means. It is a beautiful novel but definitely steeped or more like psychological, spiritual you know social themes around love which I think we can all do a lot more of these days. But before I introduce my special guest I just want to remind you that if you are watching this show live on Facebook or on our YouTube channel afterwards, don’t forget that after the show is over if you click the link below this video you can take my 30-second quiz and we can figure out what’s holding you back from success. So please let me introduce my special guest Herb Freed. How are you, Herb?
HF: I’m very well. Thank you. It's a pleasure to be talking to you, Natalie.
NL: Yes, a pleasure to talk to you as well. You were like the director of like 15 feature films, you’re a former Rabbi. You’ve had quite the life experience. So what we might do is talk a little bit about your life story and what was the inspiration behind writing the book, “Bashert.”
HF: All wonderful questions. First of all I did start out as a conservative Rabbi but I was, I studied at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and after I was ordained I preached and taught and was a good rabbi for three years but that’s not what I liked and I began, I studied dance, I studied acting, I did I was able to discover that I was not a good actor but I was a pretty good director and then, I did three shows at the Maidman Playhouse in New York. And what from there started to study film came out to Los Angeles and I've made, you're right, I've made over 15 feature films and about 200 television commercials and discovered that that's where I, where my soul is. I love theatre, I love music, I love art. And so it was the perfect place for me. And when my wife was ill and passed away some six years ago and that’s when I began to actually sit down and write. And I found writing a wonderful way to communicate with myself, with the cosmos and particularly with the people I loved, those who are still around and who isn't. So this book “Bashert” is my first novel and it's a Yiddish word Bashert, if I can hold up this book that's the title and if you can see it well, you know it's it's a Yiddish word which means preordained, meant to be and of course it talks about lovers, it talks about preordained love. It means finding your soulmate and that’s what the story was about in the glory and the triumph and the beauty of finding that one person that you were made for. And in fact there’s a that the title pretty much comes from something called the Kabbalah, which is a study in Jewish mysticism written about 500 years ago and there is a belief that true love and true lovers are conceived at the same time in the same cell and when God divides that single cell and the two are born and raised, it is their mission in life to find one another and when they do they will find true love. And that’s really what the story is about.
NL: Right. And where was the inspiration you got for writing this story?
HF: Well, you know Marion my wife, Marion Sega,l was a wonderful writer and she said something that really sticks with me and that is that all fiction is a biography and all of the biography is fiction because you write what you're possessed to write about and you could only write about what you know. So this the two lead characters in my book is a male a man whom we call Dan who was a rabbi, left the rabbinate, became a filmmaker and then met this glorious woman who was a film editor and writer and they lived this glorious life. They’ve made films all over the world which we did and that’s what I write about. We’ve made films in Paris, in Jamaica, in Cancun, in Israel all over the world. It’s a glorious life and making films I don’t know you know I’m with people if you or your work is agony and ecstasy. And that's our most wonderful experience. So that gave me the background for the story from for the story that I write. And there’s the question that arises in the book like this is what happens when one of the souls, one of the mates dies? I mean how do you then reconcile your life and so forth. And interestingly enough the very first review that came out of the San Francisco, I'm sorry, San Diego, and the title of the review which was a lovely review was, you know, "Can Love Transcend Death" and that's a major element in the story and so the people who've read it I've been happy to say that I've been in over 35 cities in the past year, it came out exactly one year ago on Valentine's Day, and so I've been able to talk about the film and I'm sorry about that, whoa I let something slip there, I mean the book, and hopefully will become a film but I have the joy of talking to really lovely people like yourself and could just talk about the things that are important to me.
NL: So what you’re talking about here is not the schmaltzy Hollywood style love story where you know, you’re talking about lifetime love, you’re talking about love you know what’s that all.
HF: That’s very astute of you to point that out because that’s precisely what I was I was intended to avoid. I didn’t want any schmaltzy stuff. I wanted this to be a story about the kind, about love, when two mature people find each other and they create a life together that’s that beyond anything they have together and it’s not flying around in the air, it’s very real and there is also dealing with the illness and what do you do when one partner is suffering enormously and there’s that the pathos that you want to help but you’re limited in what you can do and it that brings out certain something in you that you didn’t know you had. And that’s what love, true love, can do, brings out in you, it develops you to a point where you never could have been otherwise.
NL: Yes. So I’m assuming that you feel like you had Bashert with Marion.
HF: I have to say that it was. Now the truth in advertising, the fact is that I was married before. I was married for 20 years with my first wife who was a great actress, was on Fiddler on the Roof and West Side Story, a wonderful actress Anne Marisse and she passed away after we were married for 20 years and that was difficult and we had a wonderful togetherness, but I have to admit that we were not Bashert. It was a, we were great friends, were great pals, we enjoyed a life together but it wasn't, it didn't have that other element, and it's when Marion and I met, our eyes met, in fact it was right here in Los Angeles at the Zanuck Theatre on the 20th Century Fox lot and it was at a book screening, book reading, and I got up and said something that I heard and spoken about that particular book and afterwards she came over to me and said did you say this and I said yes I did and all the time she was staring at me, I looked into her eyes I couldn’t speak. I knew is that thunderbolt. It happens, it truly happens and it happened to me and I was in my 40’s at that time and so it was that unbelievable mystical thing that happens. That is so enriching, so powerful.
NL: Yeah because you know there is a lot of and you know and I am one of these people in mid to late 40s, single after being married or being you know, in a relationship for 20 years and then now looking for love, that I find that because I’m a different person than I was in my 20s, and because our priorities are different, I think that I find that I can recognize you know, love or a partner in a completely different way than I did before. So do you think you have to be a certain age to experience Bashert?
HF: Well, what you just said is really very touching and it goes straight to my heart because that’s, that is how I lived my life and I do believe, and now more than ever because we do live, people, we live longer and we live healthy, most of us are healthier and we’re more interested in theater and drama in life and walking in the park and having someone to hold your hand and to talk to and will understand what’s going on in your head and your heart and in your life and this mutual and you’re always there for one another and that does happen when you’re in your later years. By later, I mean now you look at anybody who’s working because that’s what the today’s forty is. But I think that’s a very astute point and in fact the readers of “Bashert” so far and people I spoken to you know I had a really lovely book signing in Pasadena and then I had one not far in San Diego and we did table television there too and I would say 90% of the people in the audience were in their 40s and 50s or beyond. There were a couple of young people but not too many and I think when you’re older you have more patience than young and greater understanding and just more to draw on in your life. So I think that’s a very valid point that you make.
NL: Yeah. Now I know that you are a former rabbi, do you have, and we talked about, we touched on Kabbalah earlier, so is there more, like, religious turns in the book as well, like people are learning from that as well?
HF: Well I think I would have to say that the book is not religious but it is spiritual. It’s spiritual in that it extends beyond Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism. It deals with what we all want as a species, that we all feel and there are elements of the spirit, there are elements of life as we know it, they all blend together and there are certain elements that are just life elements and feelings and thoughts that I think we share as humans. So I have spoken in a couple of synagogues, the creative art synagogues here in Los Angeles and several others and I find very like-minded people.
NL: Yes. Absolutely. And what I love about this book is that it is, or it is, a love story for older people like, you know, middle-aged people, it doesn't necessarily like this the young love. So what's the message that you want readers to take away from reading the book?
HF: I want them to find something in their lives that I touch that they almost either didn’t have or didn’t know they have or didn’t want to know they had. Something that awakens a desire to get more out of life, to live more fully, to find more love in your life and to find a way to make this life that we lead, this temporary excursion that we have on earth, full of as much giving, as much joy, as much exhilaration as we can possibly engender.
NL: I agree. Now I know that, I mean it's a fantastic story. Obviously, you've had an adventurous life, but what I have noticed is that your female characters seem to be very empowered, you know, they seem to be very strong characters. Are you surrounded by strong women in your life? Did you draw off someone that you knew?
HF: I am a product of the women in my life. I must admit that I’m a feminist. I do believe that the instruction that the guidance I received and the encouragement that I’ve received from women surpasses not necessarily in depth but in tone. I’m able to listen and I believe that the women tell you the truth in a different way. If I’m involved in some project and I show it to a man or a woman, to people. The man will be very logical and he’ll tell me what he thinks about it. I don’t feel it. You know it doesn’t strike me as something that like I can honestly say I believe I could see, I can feel and so women in my life and certainly in my books and in my novels and in my movies you know there’s one very lovely movie that came to mind that I did with if I remember May Britt who’s a Swedish actress, Aldo Ray, and some others and it was a wonderful film I made some years ago. It was a psychological drama they called it Haunts but it's very much of a thriller, a psychological thriller. But working with her and watching the way she comes to the set and others set put me on a kind of a road to how best to deal and how to understand and to grow from my experience with women whom I respect.
NL: Yes. I’m so excited to spread the word about this amazing novel. Like I said, it’s an inspiration to all of us who are in the second chapter of our life and looking for love and it gives us an idea of what’s possible for us. When we know what’s possible and we can hold that vision, it makes it easier for us to create that ourselves. So I wanna thank you so much for your work and thank you for joining me today. Now if people want to reach out to you, if they want to get their hands on the book where can we send them to do that?
HF: Well they can do in several ways. One is to go to Amazon and just look up Bashert. B-A-S-H-E-R-T Bashert. This is what the book looks like I think I have shown it. That's a good way or you can go to my website which is herbfreed.com H-E-R-B-F-R-E-E-D dot com and it can tell you a lot about the book and but even more about some of the people who've read it and who were deeply affected by it, I would love to share that.
NL: Thanks. Well thank you again, Herb, it's been a pleasure chatting with you today.
HF: Well thank you so much, Natalie, it's a joy to be talking to you.
NL: Wonderful. Now, guys, I encourage you guys to share this video. Please help us spread the word. You can do that by clicking the Facebook and the Twitter share buttons on this page, now don’t forget we have a banner to the side or a link underneath so you can go straight through to Herb’s website. And once the show is over don’t forget to click that link so we can get you to take our 30-second quiz so we can figure out what’s holding you back from success. So until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously and love without limits. Thanks, guys, we’ll see you soon.
HF: That was lovely.