The Acci­den­tal Zion­ist: What a Priest, a Pornog­ra­ph­er and a Wrestler Named Chain­saw Taught Me About Being Jew­ish, Sav­ing the World, and Why Israel Mat­ters to Both

Ian Pear
  • Review
By – December 5, 2011
Ian Pear writes with the pas­sion of an evan­ge­list seek­ing to con­vince his audi­ence that Jew­ish faith, Jew­ish prac­tice, and the Jew­ish State of Israel have the answers to today’s prob­lems. Pear shares his insights through live­ly anec­dotes and con­nec­tions to tra­di­tion­al Jew­ish texts.

In one of the book’s emblem­at­ic pas­sages, Pear flash­es back to a high school wrestling match against a threat­en­ing com­peti­tor nick­named Chain­saw.” Pear was called to the ring with the unflat­ter­ing nick­name The Matza Ball.” Although he felt proud as a Jew, he won­dered why his coach didn’t choose a more hon­or­able name like King David.” Pear con­cludes that his coach’s unso­phis­ti­cat­ed Judaism is part of a larg­er prob­lem: Judaism has failed to inspire mod­ern Jews to become edu­cat­ed mes­sen­gers of monotheism. 

In the sec­ond half of the book, Pear argues that the State of Israel answers this prob­lem because it rep­re­sents the best hope for Jews to feel part of a win­ning team in the world. He calls upon read­ers to estab­lish a con­nec­tion to the land of Israel because it can nur­ture a deep iden­ti­ty, a deep con­nec­tion to the Jew­ish peo­ple, and a deep con­nec­tion to God.

Judd Kruger Lev­ingston, Ph.D. and rab­bi, serves as Direc­tor of Jew­ish Stud­ies at Jack M. Bar­rack Hebrew Acad­e­my in the Philadel­phia area. Lev­ingston is the author of Sow­ing the Seeds of Char­ac­ter: The Moral Edu­ca­tion of Ado­les­cents in Pub­lic and Pri­vate Schools (Praeger, 2009).

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