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Letters to an American Jewish Friend: a Zionist's Polemic [Kindle Edition]

Hillel Halkin
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $19.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Book Description

This passionate polemic addresses itself to the ultimate questions of Jewish destiny and proclaims the primacy of Israel as the locus of the Jewish future. Hillel Halkin is an American-born Jew who has cast his personal and historical lot with Israel. Corresponding with an imaginary American Jewish friend who upholds the possibility of a viable Jewish life outside Israel, Halkin forcefully argues his case: Jewish history and Israeli history are two lines in the process of converging; and any Jew who chooses, in the absence of extenuating circumstances, not to live in Israel is removing himself to the peripheries of the struggle for Jewish survival and away from the center of Jewish destiny.

Editorial Reviews


A year ago, I reread Hillel Halkin s Letters to an American Jewish Friend, which decades later stands as one of the smartest, sharpest explorations of the delicate relationship between the committed Diaspora Jew and the Aliyah-making Zionist. As I read the book, one page after another was loosened from the binding, and I thought, Boy we need a new edition of this book. I am thrilled to welcome this classic with a compelling, inspiring new introduction by the author. The issues are remarkably relevant, the writing remains fluid, the passion infectious, the insights profound. New generations of readers will be inspired by this, and older generations of readers will eagerly greet this new edition like an old and long yearned-for friend. --Gil Troy, author, Moynihan s Moment: America s Fight against Zionism as Racism and Why I Am A Zionist

Three and a half decades ago, the appearance of Hillel Halkin s Letters to an American Jewish Friend sent shockwaves through the American Jewish community. The book was what would become known as vintage Halkin smart, thoughtful, provocative, unsettling. No one who read it put it down untouched or unmoved. That Letters is being reissued now, making it available to a generation that needs it perhaps even more than the generation in which it first appeared, is cause for celebration, hope and gratitude. --Daniel Gordis, Shalem College, Jerusalem; winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Saving Israel

About the Author

Hillel Halkin was born in New York City in 1939. In 1970 he and his wife made aliya to Israel, settling in Zichron Yaakov. He has translated some seventy works of modern Hebrew fiction into English, among them classics by such authors as Agnon, Brenner, and Amos Oz. Halkin has also written weekly columns for the Forward, the Jerusalem Post, the New York Sun, and the Jerusalem Review. Hailed by McGill professor Gil Troy as a great contemporary Zionist thinker, Halkin has authored five other books in addition to Letters to an American Jewish Friend (1977): Across the Sabbath River (Houghton-Mifflin, 2002); A Strange Death (Public Affairs, 2005); Yehuda Halevi (Schocken Jewish Encounter Series, 2010); Melisande! What Are Dreams? (Granta, 2013); and a biography of Vladimir Jabotinsky (expected 2014, Yale University Press).

Product Details

  • File Size: 831 KB
  • Print Length: 215 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Gefen Publishing House (November 15, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00H57FXBM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #869,100 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic! September 27, 2004
Excellent! It influenced me to make aliya (immigrate) to Israel. The situation has changed somewhat in the past few decades since Halkin wrote the book but the sentiments are still true today!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is an excellent book in which Halkin explains to an American friend his reasons for choosing to live in the Jewish state even though it involves considerable material sacrifice in comparison to the life in America. Halkin's hope for and vision of a normal Jewish society living in peace with its neighbors seems farther from realization today than when he wrote the book. But the book is still a well- written and thoughtful essay in explaining the special meaning of the Jewish state.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must read June 26, 2014
Hillel Halkin was born in 1939 and moved to Israel in 1970. He is an author, a translator and a columnist. The son of a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, he had a Jewish education and religious background, but now considers himself secular. Hillel Halkin has lived in the northern Israeli town of Zichron Yaakov, located on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean, since he relocated here.

The first thing I must say is that Hillel Halkin can really write. I may be somewhat of a snob when it comes to these things, but I have expectations when I read any type of non-fiction. The first is that the writer actually did his homework and conducted the proper research. Then he should give a well reasoned argument in defense of a thesis or tell a compelling narrative of some sort. Finally he must know how to write.

First published in 1977, Letters to an American Jewish friend has just been rereleased in paperback by Geffen Publishing House. I have had an extensive education in both Jewish history and Israeli/Zionist history. I have been an avid reader of books on both subjects since my youth. That is why I am almost ashamed to admit that I did not read Letters until now.

While reading the book I was angered. Not because I disagreed with the content, on the contrary. I was annoyed because Mr. Halkin had already so eloquently put into words more than thirty years ago what I have always believed and felt. This moots any possibility that I might some day write something similar myself. Imagine if you woke up one day having, entirely on your own, discovered the truth of a mathematical or scientific principal, such as the Theory of Relativity or the Pythagorean Theorem, only to learn that it had already been discovered long ago.
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More About the Author

An author, journalist, and internationally renowned, awarding-winning translator, Hillel Halkin has translated several novels from Hebrew into English.

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