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If a Place Can Make You Cry: Dispatches from an Anxious State Hardcover – October 15, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (October 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400046130
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400046133
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,643,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1998, Gordis, his wife and three children left their home in Los Angeles, where he was vice president of the University of Judaism, to spend a one-year sabbatical in Jerusalem. While in Israel, though, Gordis began to feel that it was not only his home, but "an experiment of cosmic significance," that he wished to be a permanent part of. This volume gathers e-mails-some excerpted previously in the New York Times Magazine-and private musings that record Gordis's impressions of his new home up through the current turmoil. Gordis, along with many other liberal and leftist sympathizers with the Palestinians, grows thoroughly disillusioned. With the gnawing sense that the Palestinians are not willing to abide a Jewish presence in their region, he comes to believe that there is no end in sight to the daily violence. Yet, he never contemplates returning to the comforts of L.A., even when questioning the ethics of placing his children in danger. But he is troubled primarily by the fate and possible future of the region's children-Israeli and Palestinian. Pondering God's call to Abraham to sacrifice Jacob, he wonders, "Could it be that there is something so subtle, so magical, so intoxicating-and so dangerous-about this land that it leads parents to willingly sacrifice their children?" Gordis is a provocative and penetrating observer, and his writings perfectly capture the complex conundrum of a soul in the tense present, yearning for a state of eternity. Maps.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In 1998 Rabbi Gordis, his wife, and their three children moved to Israel from Los Angeles, embarking on what they thought would be a one-year sabbatical; instead it has become their permanent home. Gordis began sending e-mails about his life there to friends and family, and some of these eventually appeared in the New York Times Magazine. Gordis' book is an edited collection of his e-mails. At the end of September 2000, hostilities broke out between the Palestinians and Israel, and Gordis divides the book into two sections, before and after that date. He explains how his family must balance their love of Israel with the fear of living in a land torn by strife. "It's the story of a time in which peace gave way to war, when childhood innocence evaporated in the heat of hatred, when it became difficult even to hope," he writes, putting in human terms the agony of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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 http://danielgordis.org/

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a MUST READ for anyone who thinks they have a solution to the problems in the Middle East. Rabbi Gordis doesn't present ideology -- rather, he gives us a dose of reality; of what he and his family face every day, along with constantly questioning the decision they made to remain in Israel. I've read a lot of negative comments regarding "putting his children in harm's way," but he is teaching his children what's to be valued, cherished and fought for -- not land, per se, as some have intimated but, rather, the ideal of one place on this earth that Jews can live -- one day, God willing, in peace. Israel serves its purpose not only as the one place Jews in peril can immigrate to, but as a place of inspiration and dedication. While Israeli and American parents both want the same thing for their children -- they should only be happy, have a successful career, a loving spouse, healthy children and NOT have to face going to war. Israeli parents, however, know there is something more -- that achieving these personal goals should not come at the expense or peril of the country's goals.
In the past, I have had opinions as to what Israel should or shoould not do to make peace, but this book highlights better than anything else what the daunting reality is vis-a-vis a solution. While we may all "pray for the peace in Jerusalem," the reality is that more than prayer is needed, and there may not be A single solution or long-term peace -- at least not without other Arab countries stepping in.
This is an extremely well-written, highly enlightening book, and the next time I hear anyone stating a firm opinion as to what Israel should do, I'm going to recommend they read this before the spout off again!
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Levy Stevenson on October 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Old joke, often seen on bumper stickers: "Definition of a conservative? A liberal who's been mugged. " Daniel Gordis would probably still not describe himself as a conservative, but the liberal views he and his family took to Israel when they moved there four years ago have taken a severe beating.
When Rabbi Gordis was offered a year-long fellowship in Jerusalem, the Oslo peace process was offering a vision of peace and prosperity for a country that had seen neither for some time. Inspired by what they saw, the Gordis family cancelled their plans to return to Los Angeles and moved permanently to Israel; a move known to Jews as "making aliyah," or in English, "rising up." Daniel Gordis began to write occasional email essays to family & friends updating them on this new life, and the emails were forwarded to a wide circle. Eventually they were extracted in the New York Times, and now they've been collected (with some new writings as connective tissue) in this remarkable book.
What shines through this book is the gradual dimming of the idealism with which the Gordis family saw their new country. As the peace process collapsed, replaced by a constant undercurrent of shootings, bombings and rocket attacks, Israeli attitudes and opinions moved firmly towards an uncompromising crackdown on Arab terrorism. Former liberals and peace activists found themselves grasping for a framework that could support their principles; but this time partners were hard to find.
The most disturbing part of the book is hearing the effect that it has had on the Gordis children. They went to a country that offered them safety and security, a place where they could walk safely in the streets late at night, but ended up living in a war zone.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a moving, compelling and readable book that draws you in from the first page. Gordis is a gifted and sensitive observer whose account of his family's life in Israel is so personal and honest that the reader feels an emotional bond. On every page, you feel his passion, his struggles and his deep knowledge of Israel's history and meaning. More than a book about politics, it is a family story -- about parents and children and how they cope with life in a place that is full of pain and hope, a place where the author finds inspiring, transcendent surprises around every corner.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Daniel Gordis is a Jewish writer and educator. When he brought his family to Israel for a year he did not know the dramatic turnabout they would come to face. The terror- war which the Palestinians launched when the Clinton brokered peace - process broke down in late September 2000 means his family is exposed to a kind of violence they had never imagined. In clear and informative E- mails to friends he tells the story of this year of what his family goes through. A person of the liberal left, a super- tolerant idealist he comes to understand that it is not enough for one side to want peace, but rather that both sides must. He becomes more passionate in his defense of Israel when he understands that really it is a country subject to aggression fighting for its own life . He too confronts the hard questions of his own family members, his childrens' suspicions that they are being sacrificed on the altar of their parents idealism. This book is important precisely because Gordis is clearly such a ' man of peace and good- will'. And because it shows how complicated and difficult the struggle of Israel is for life and peace.
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