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The Wrestler from Montreal by Arnold Holtzman. Click on the book cover on the left to purchase.



After graduating college in Montreal, Arnold, then twenty years old, moved to Israel which has been his home ever since. He started a rose nursery devoting himself to hybridizing new garden varieties. These continue to flourish in several countries. Eventually he returned to academic studies earning a Ph.D. in Health and Human Services. At this time he developed an award winning discipline in psychological diagnosis extending from the medical-genetic science of Dermatoglyphics (palmer ridge pattern analysis). Two textbooks Arnold had written on the subject were published in Toronto. The first became a collector's item. The second, published in 2004, is reaching his pupils in close to 80 countries. Writing and lecturing remain the author's central activities.

Arnold Holtzman was born in Montreal in 1937 to immigrant parents � his father from Poland, his mother from Russia. Penniless when they wed there was no compromising the energies they invested in securing a better life for their growing family. At 6 am every morning � often inclusive of Saturdays and Sundays � they turned the bedroom which Arnold shared with his sister and grandmother into a children's wear factory. The first luxury they permitted themselves was to send him at five years old to the Hebrew parochial school two blocks away.

But Arnold never permitted the rigid regime of classes and homework to overtake the magical currents of his imagination. The windows of his classrooms held more fascination for him than the blackboards. His parents would say that it was only the intervention from on high that spared him the shame of repeating a year at school � and this from grade four. Against all the ominous predictions of his teachers, Arnold matriculated high school albeit by the proverbial skin of his teeth. He had no further academic ambitions.

After a year at art school, however, he applied and was accepted at Sir George Williams College (later Concordia University). Virtually from the day the college accepted him Arnold never looked back. His achievements at the university and through the years are marked by their intellectual inventiveness and creative expression. Whether in the area of horticulture, psychology or literature his contributions continue to touch the lives of many, invariably making those lives considerably richer.

Arnold Holtzman presently lives with his wife, Esther, in Yehud, a small town just east of Tel-Aviv. His original rose creations are all presently on display at Jerusalem's beautiful Wohl Rose Park and in several European countries.


This is the story of a heritage delivered by a mother to her two very young sons in the last hours of her life. It is a heritage which man could not modify, time could not temper, and the expanse of oceans could not distance from their lives. The Wrestler from Montreal is a saga that begins at the turn of the last century in Eastern Europe and carries to Montreal up until the early thirties. The story follows the life of Avrum Vishinsky who along with his younger brother is orphaned in the wake of horrendous and altogether traumatizing experiences which decimate his small village and leave no survivors apart from themselves. Avrum is nine years old at the time (1898) and his brother Hershel is seven. Shortly afterward the brothers become forcibly separated. Avrum gets taken by a company of lumbermen to the forests of Zamboor and Urman in the Ukraine and it is here that he grows into the rugged and physically imposing man who when reaching his twenties gets carried by circumstances to the New World and Montreal.

At one level the saga is the fulfillment of a prophecy delivered by Avrum's mother just before her death. From that moment and through the length of the book there is the existential confrontation between the determined wills of men who would steer Avrum in directions that serve their own immediate and narrow interests, and the higher designs of fate as expressed in the prophecy.

At another level is Avrum's agonizing search for his brother which carries across cities and continents. It is no less a search for his own identity. He becomes very successful as a professional wrestler in Montreal � again manipulated by the wills of others, but it is here that the prophecy comes to fruition. The brothers become reunited and Avrum finds both his identity and his place in the world.

The story itself moves at breakneck speed and touches extremes in human virtues and vices. It can detail the most abject cruelties and yet look at the world through a comic's eyes. It somehow brings together the old world mysticism of Issac Bashevis Singer, the many rich if shady characters of Damon Runyan, and the streets made famous in the classic writings of Mordecai Richler.

The Wrestler from Montreal brings a mirror to an inimitable generation of Jewish immigrants to America who are no longer with us. This is the author's salute to them.

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