In 1998, the author and his wife moved to Israel with their children, leaving comfortable suburban California life for a oneyear sabbatical. Shortly after moving, they decided to stay in Jerusalem, motivated in part by the prospects for peace that seemed achievable, even imminent. Through a series of short pieces, this book describes his and his family’s experiences living in Israel and its effects on them, as peace prospects ebb and flow.
Gordis wrestles with the implications of his and his wife’s decision to remain in Israel to raise their family, examining in particular its impact on their children. Descriptions of conversations with his children — whether about mundane moments of life, or more complex topics like their perspectives on terrorism or serving in Israel’s defense forces— are by turns intense, enlightening, humorous and wrenching. He ultimately concludes that there is nowhere he would rather he, and they, be. His and their love for what Israel is and can be is palpable. It is a place, Gordis writes, whose power is overwhelming, that is filled with moments in which “life goes through you.” Many such moments are beautifully captured in this book.
Gordis also thoughtfully discusses the Palestinian situation and Israel’s disengagement from Gaza. Here his ability to describe intricate, nuanced matters in a few simple, graceful lines is most striking. This book reminds us how, like his family, his State wrestles with the choices before it, continually assessing what it is and what it will become. And it allows us to appreciate why he feels fortunate, despite the complexities, to be a part of it.