A Home for All Jews

Brandeis University Press  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.

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