A Home for All Jews

Orit Rozin; Haim Watz­man, trans.
  • Review
By – November 16, 2016

Part of the pres­ti­gious Schus­ter­man Series in Israeli Stud­ies, this slim vol­ume packs in a sur­pris­ing amount of facts and per­cep­tions about life and cit­i­zen­ship in Israel. While a schol­ar­ly text in scope and con­tent, A Home for All Jews is writ­ten in a way that makes it appeal­ing to aca­d­e­mics and non-aca­d­e­mics alike. 

Orit Rozin care­ful­ly decon­structs the cit­i­zen­ship rights put into place when the state of Israel was new, hon­ing in on three major con­cepts that under­pin many of the issues that con­cern mod­ern Israelis and Israel-watch­ers: the right to child­hood, the right to for­eign trav­el, and the right to free speech. A senior lec­tur­er in Jew­ish his­to­ry at Tel Aviv Uni­ver­si­ty, Rozin is well qual­i­fied to write this study. She is part of a new gen­er­a­tion of schol­ars who are ded­i­cat­ed to explor­ing Israel’s social, cul­tur­al, and polit­i­cal his­to­ry. Rozin’s first book, The Rise of the Indi­vid­ual in 1950s Israel: A Chal­lenge to Col­lec­tivism, was well received in the aca­d­e­m­ic com­mu­ni­ty. This new work sur­pass­es that one in its orig­i­nal­i­ty, sub­tle­ty, and complexity.

In A Home for All Jews, Rozin ana­lyzes how the Jews who estab­lished the State of Israel were able to trans­form them­selves from diverse groups of Zion­ists to cit­i­zens of a demo­c­ra­t­ic Jew­ish nation. She does so using lan­guage that high­lights the sen­si­bil­i­ties of Israel’s pop­u­la­tion at the same time that it pro­vides mean­ing and con­text. The book employs the high­ly effec­tive, tried-and-true case-study method to show how the Israeli search for inclu­sion was car­ried out. 

Rozin’s research is doc­u­ment­ed through an unusu­al­ly large num­ber of notes and an out­stand­ing bib­li­og­ra­phy, both of which pro­vide the read­er with an immense amount of source mate­r­i­al in addi­tion to under­gird­ing the schol­ar­ship with sev­er­al lev­els of reli­a­bil­i­ty. A detailed index makes it easy to find mate­r­i­al with­in the text. The trans­la­tion by Haim Watz­man is flu­id; with­out know­ing that the book was writ­ten in Hebrew, read­ers would not sense that what they hold in their hand had not been orig­i­nal­ly cre­at­ed in English.

Through­out the book, Rozin stress­es the val­ue of democ­ra­cy, not only to Israelis, but to all of human­i­ty, and how impor­tant it is to con­tin­ue to pro­vide cit­i­zens every­where with reminders of how much their rights and free­doms mat­ter. The ideas, the­o­ries and his­to­ries pre­sent­ed in A Home for All Jews serve just that purpose.

Relat­ed Content:

Lin­da F. Burghardt is a New York-based jour­nal­ist and author who has con­tributed com­men­tary, break­ing news, and fea­tures to major news­pa­pers across the U.S., in addi­tion to hav­ing three non-fic­tion books pub­lished. She writes fre­quent­ly on Jew­ish top­ics and is now serv­ing as Schol­ar-in-Res­i­dence at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al & Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

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