It has long been assumed by the Jewish community in the modern world model that Israel is front and center — that Israel has a primary and essential role in the community and that Jewish life and Jewish priorities should reflect that role.
In At Home in Exile Alan Wolfe challenges this mainstream approach. He is respectful and eloquent, but his point is clear: Israel is important, but the Diaspora is also important, and living outside of Israel should be valued and praised.
There is, Wolfe maintains, a long history of great creativity in the Diaspora, and there is much that Jews out in the wider world have to offer to the world as the people they are — contributions that cannot be made in Israel.
Wolfe writes beautifully. His arguments are well constructed. He weaves together a story and his points are easily understood. Even if one disagrees with his premise, the reader cannot deny that the points Wolfe is making are cogent and need to be addressed.
Alan Wolfe is neither anti-Israel nor anti-Zionist. He is advocating for creative Jewish communities outside of Israel. He wants to emphasize that Diaspora Jewry, a full half of the Jewish world, are (as they must be) players on the stage of Jewish life, culture, and creativity.