If You Awaken Love

Toby Press  2007


In their youth, Shlomtzion and Yair are typical Israeli Jews steeped in religious tradition and study. Their conversations, travels, and intensive education all illustrate a total absorption with laws of halacha. Eventually, however, the enthusiastic devotion to Judaic causes, ideals, and goals that once brought them together now provoke Yair to end their longstanding relationship. Both marry others and go their separate ways: Shlomtzion becomes an architect, who designs modern communities, and Yair becomes a rabbi who lives on a kibbutz. Although their differences are now clear to the reader, they do not become clear to the protagonists until, perhaps by a stroke of fate, Shlomtzion’s daughter and Yair’s son become engaged. Only then, when the parents join to plan the wedding, do they also begin to understand what has driven them apart and drawn them together.

One can read If You Awaken Love in many ways. On the one hand, it may well be a simple story of unrequited love. On the other hand, the love story of Shlomtzim and Yair can be read as a metaphor of national conflict between those who struggle for peace in Israel and those who struggle to retain their land.

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