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Coming Together, Coming Apart: A Memoir of Heartbreak and Promise in Israel Hardcover – June 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


"Whether describing a walk through Jerusalem in snow, a hike in the desert or a farewell family drive to the Gaza settlements, Gordis manages to capture the essential details that tell us the larger meaning of our Israeli lives. There is much irony in this book, and also anger, especially against those who unfairly judge Israel in its most desperate and noble times. Most of all, though, this book is the chronicle of a love story - of an immigrant family in Jerusalem falling in love with Israel and, through that love, discovering the strength to cope with life on the front lines of a Jihadist war. As a fellow Jerusalemite, I feel a profound debt to Gordis for explaining what it means to raise a family in the middle of a terror zone, and the courage that average Israelis instinctively display in maintaining the pretense of normal life. Those of us who share his passion are fortunate to be so well represented by this book."
—Yossi Klein Halevi, Foreign Correspondent, The New Republic

"Interesting conversation is Israel's most ingratiating commodity, and this is an especially interesting one. To read Coming Together, Coming Apartis to be engaged in an ongoing dialogue with one of Israel's most thoughtful observers - an American who made Israel his home, despite its imperfections and dangers. Gordis's conversational narrative is irresistible."
—Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case for Israel

From the Inside Flap

Prepare to experience a powerful, multilayered true love story like none you have ever read before—the deeply resonant and satisfying memoir of a man struggling to hold his world together as his country is being torn apart.

When Daniel Gordis, his wife, Elisheva, and their three young children abandoned a safe and comfortable home in Los Angeles to move halfway around the world and find a new life in Israel, the future looked bright. It was 1998, Ehud Barak had just been elected prime minister, and peace appeared to be only a few tough negotiations away.

Two years later, hope had turned to terror, as the rattle of machine-gun fire perforated the night and the frightened, exhausted children clung desperately to their stuffed animals in fitful sleep, dreaming perhaps of the quiet, peaceful world they had left behind.

In Coming Together, Coming Apart, Gordis tells a timely, relevant, and deeply personal tale that lays bare the complex problems of the seemingly intractable and often incomprehensible Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reveals how much is at stake, and underscores the toll the struggle takes on every human being it touches.

How do you raise children in a land of suicide bombings and rocket attacks? Can a society preserve its moral principles through five decades of war? With the Intifada raging and America about to invade Iraq, with Saddam Hussein threatening missile attacks on Israel, how can anyone resist the temptation to hate the enemy? Writing with unparalleled sympathy, creativity, and hope, Gordis explores all of these questions and many more through a series of disarmingly simple anecdotes that nonetheless penetrate deeply into the heart of the matter.

In 2005, two disengagements loomed large for Gordis. The first, which grabbed headlines worldwide, was Israel's pullout from the Gaza strip and the eviction of Jewish settlers it could no longer protect. The second separation, occurring at the same time, was a more personal one: his daughter was drafted. With the country divided over the pullout and his own children marching toward a future potentially devoid of peace, Gordis peers deeply into the soul of a country where the more people appear bound together, the more completely they're torn apart.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471789615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471789611
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,324,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Daniel Gordis is Senior Vice President and Koret Distinguished Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. The author of numerous books on Jewish thought and currents in Israel, Dr. Gordis was the founding dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism, the first rabbinical college on the West Coast of the United States. Dr. Gordis joined Shalem in 2007 to help found Israel's first liberal arts college, after spending nine years as vice president of the Mandel Foundation in Israel and director of its Leadership Institute.

Since moving to Israel in 1998, Dr. Gordis has written and lectured throughout the world on Israeli society and the challenges facing the Jewish state. His writing has appeared in magazines and newspapers including the New York Times, the New Republic, the New York Times Magazine, Moment, Tikkun, and Conservative Judaism. His book, Saving Israel: How the Jewish State Can Win a Way That May Never End, received the 2009 National Jewish Book Award.

Gordis' newest book, The Promise of Israel: Why Its Seemingly Greatest Weakness is Actually its Greatest Strength, was published by Wiley in August 2012. He is now writing a biography of Menachem Begin for the prestigious Nextbook series, which will appear in Spring 2014.

Dr. Gordis received his B.A. from Columbia College (Magna Cum Laude), a Masters Degree and Rabbinic Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

He blogs at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Conti on July 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Daniel Gordis' writing is honest and moving, the key to any successful memoir. In the beginning of the memoir Gordis acknowledges the question that many parents ask him, "How could you do this to your kids? How could you take them from the safety of suburban Los Angles to Israel?" The answer to that question comes through in every word that he writes. It is an answer filled with meaning and purpose, history and peoplehood, faith and dedication. But I encourage the reader to discover the answer for his or herself.

Gordis, himself, defies many of the labels that plague Israel. He seems to be one of the few remaining people who can talk about Israel with nuance and a recognition of the truths that lie in the arguments of those on the left and those on the right. This is evidenced in his writings about the disengagement from Gaza in the summer of 2005. Mirroring the split opinions in his family (and his own internal conflicts) he tied both orange (signifying opposition to the disengagement) and blue and white (signifying support for the disengagement) ribbons to his car. This earned him many complaints from his family and an easier time parking at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (you'll have to read to understand).

One of the things that makes this book a jewel is Gordis' constant acknowledgment and appreciation for where he is. Despite the trauma and difficulties of living through exploding busses and cafes while raising a family, he never loses an appreciation or forgets the ideals and history that led him and his family to make a life in Israel.

Easily a must read for those living outside of Israel, especially given the recent violence, it is perhaps an even more important read for those living inside of Israel. After reading this book one imagines that if there were more people in Israel like Gordis the country just might get through all its troubles.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By myrna on July 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book is a must read for anyone wanting to get a better understanding of what it really means to love your country from a superb writer.

Reading this book was like putting myself in Israel. Mr. Gordis has the ability to present very controversial topics and display a fairness to both sides of an issue. One has no doubt that this author has a deeply rooted love for his country.

By including beautiful passages about his three children and wife, one can't help but feel connected to each of them. I don't remember ever being so moved,while reading a book, as when Mr. Gordis shared his very private moments of seeing his military bound daughter sleeping in her bed on her last night home, cuddling her very old bear "Curious".

Learn about Israel, a beautiful country. Understand in greater depth the turmoil and difficult decisions made by the people who have made their home in this very small piece of land.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Scott Howard on August 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have read all of Daniel Gordis' books. Each one is extremely meaningful and thought provoking. The latest one, Coming Together, Coming Apart is a must read for anyone who cares about Israel,anyone who cares about humanity anyone who is a parent, or anyone who is a child. Very few books, that I will openly laugh, cry and make you think. It covers the period of two years, ending in October 2005 and is essentially the memoirs of Gordis, who emigrated to Israel from Los Angeles with his children. Especially in light of the current events, it helps one understand the day to day life that Israelies face, the challenges they face, and their love of life and their hope. Once you pick the book up, it is difficult to put it down. I cannot recommend it enough.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gary Selikow on January 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In this volume Daniel Gordis writes of his life in Israel from when he family moved from Los Angeles to Jerusalem.
It covers the events of the Terror War (2000-2005), after Barak's offer of Gaza, half of Jerusalem and almost the entire West Bank to the Arabs was met by a bloody war of terror against Israel's population, launched by mass murderer Yassir Arafat.
He describes the wave of terror attacks, which engulfed Israel during this period, in which thousands of Israeli men, women and children were butchered in a war by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades the Popular Resistance Committees and the PFLP, to get the Jews out of the Land of Israel by killing them.
The experience of parents not knowing if that morning when their children left the house to go to school it would be the last time that they ever saw them.
Gordis reminds us that the Jews have no place to go other than Israel, and that the war is not about land but about the existence of the Jews in Israel.As the author writes "We are not leaving. Where could we possibly go? Does Europe want us back? It didn't work very well the last time we where there.
He describes the international furor over the security fence that enemies of Israel and her people the world over refer to as the 'Apartheid Wall', which has saved thousands of lives in Israel, which is probably why much of the world wants it taken down, so that terrorists can get into Israel to murder Jews.
The trial by the International Court of Justice' at the Hague, is not about the fence but about the existence of the Jews in Israel.
Arab inconvenience is treated as more important than Jewish lives.
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