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From Aleph to Ze'ev: Excursions into Jewish Culture, History, Rituals, and Beliefs Paperback – May 27, 2011
About the Author
Ze’ev Orzech was born in 1926 in Wiesbaden, Germany. In 1936, when attending public school as a Jewish child became impossible, his parents enrolled him in a Jewish boarding school in Bex-les-Bains, Switzerland. In 1938, he rejoined his family on their way to Eretz Israel (then Palestine). After graduating from Balfour College in Tel Aviv in 1947 he came to the United States to study economics at the University of California in Berkeley. In 1957, he and his wife, Mimi, moved to Corvallis, Oregon, where he began a teaching career at Oregon State University from which he retired after thirty-two years. In 1974, Mimi and Ze’ev were among the founding members of Beit Am, the Jewish Community in Corvallis and have been much involved in its activities ever since. After retirement, Ze’ev started editing Kol Ha’am, the monthly community newsletter, from whose columns this book was created.
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As someone with a non-Jewish background, I found this book to be both witty and serious. The author has the confidence in Judaism to discuss such matters as incompatible stories in the Bible and miscellaneous Jewish superstitions. The world would be a better place if those with a Christian or Muslim background could show a similar confidence.
Since all proceeds go to Beit Am, the mid-Willamette Valley Jewish community, the book is also available through [...]
My favorite part of the book is Chapter 22, "Oasis of Peace" which tells of a small settlement in Israel called Neve Shalom. Composed of roughly half Palestinian Arabs and half Jews, this community strives to create mutual understanding between these frequently antagonistic groups through education and shared activity. Even though on a small scale, the efforts here provide a "glimmer of hope" for peace.
Ze'ev Orzech's vast knowledge, wonderful sense of humor and gifted story-telling ability add up to a must read for those eager to learn of the richness of Jewish life.