In this passionate tribute to Israel and to Judeo-Christian ideals, Alan Newman weaves together the life stories of three generations of a Christian and a Jewish family.
Danny Baranson (Borinski) and Bobby Langford meet in the ‘60s in Dawkins, Indiana, a small town with a tiny Jewish population. Danny’s dad has moved the family to take over a dental practice. The Langford family, evangelical Christians, have lived in Dawkins for generations. The boys form a close friendship, sharing holidays, traditions, teenage antics, and fellowship. The families also share an important bond: Danny’s grandfather escaped Vienna, but many in his family were lost in the Holocaust. Bobby’s dad, John, was among the American soldiers who liberated Dachau, and can’t forget what he saw and felt there; his wartime memories lead to the Langford family’s commitment to Israel. The engrossing plot follows these families through the major events in their lives, and their divergent paths. Yet, their destinies eventually lead them all to Israel and to the roots of Zionism.
The alternating characters’ chapters provide succinct, fast-paced plotlines. The reader is drawn into the narratives of Israelis such as Danny’s wife, Maya, who lost her father in the Yom Kippur War, and Orit, an Ethiopian whose difficult and dangerous journey and eventual resettlement is chronicled. The Americans’ stories are presented too: Arnie, the fervently involved Jew; Yoni, whose Zionist roots lead him to the IDF; and Bobby’s daughter and wife, who are involved in evangelical causes. Through these various characters’ lives, Newman captures the essence of everyday, small-town American life; Florida retirement communities; Ethiopian deserts; and World War II Europe.
Alan Newman’s involvement in many Jewish and Israeli organizations is apparent in this knowledgeable, well-researched, page-turner of a book. Though Good Heart is not subtle in its defense of Israel or Christian Zionists, readers will find a story that highlights shared hopes, good works through partnership, and the difference ordinary people can make.
Renita Last is a member of the Nassau Region of Hadassah’s Executive Board. She has coordinated the Film Forum Series for the Region and served as Programming and Health Coordinators and as a member of the Advocacy Committee.
She has volunteered as a docent at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County teaching the all- important lessons of the Holocaust and tolerance. A retired teacher of the Gifted and Talented, she loves participating in book clubs and writing projects.