Reread­ing Israel: The Spir­it of the Matter

Bon­na Devo­ra Haberman
  • Review
By – December 18, 2012

Haber­man has writ­ten a won­der­ful book. 

It is a book which is real­ly a combina­tion — a text book, a his­to­ry, an auto­bi­og­ra­phy and a teacher/​discussion guide. 

The title tells you every­thing. The beau­ty of the book comes to life as you actu­al­ly start fol­low­ing the direc­tion of this work and pore through the mate­r­i­al, because that is when you begin to engage with the author. 

Reread­ing Israel: The Spir­it of the Mat­ter is filled with orig­i­nal doc­u­ments and texts sup­ple­ment­ed by foot­notes which are an enor­mous help in fur­ther under­stand­ing the mate­r­i­al and direct­ing the read­er towards works about the top­ics under discussion. 

Sel­dom does an author suc­cess­ful­ly draw the read­er into a real dia­logue. Haber­man has a point of view, she does not hide her bias. She is unabashed­ly pro-Israel and is extreme­ly proud of the many excit­ing con­tri­bu­tions Israel has made. 

The author choos­es top­ics that help the read­er grap­ple with Zion­ism and Israel. Her objec­tive is to engage the read­er and ele­vate the dis­cus­sion beyond the sim­ple and pro­fane and on to a lev­el of pro­found understanding. 

The book is full of Mish­na and Gemarah, Midrash and Rab­bini­cal thought. It draws on the Bible and the great his­to­ri­ans of the ancient and mod­ern world. The most pow­er­ful parts of the book come when the author uses per­son­al sto­ries to elu­ci­date her points. The most use­ful parts of the book to her read­ers come through her use of clas­si­cal Jew­ish texts.

Relat­ed Content

Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

Discussion Questions