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I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1580231831
ISBN-10: 1580231837
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In February 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was brutally murdered by terrorists in Karachi, Pakistan. Just before he died, he said, "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish." His parents decided to honor his memory by asking several hundred Jews to record their reactions to his words-statements that form the core of this book. Most of the 146 contributors are well-known authors, educators, rabbis, reporters, entertainers and political figures, including Joseph Lieberman, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, Elie Wiesel, Dianne Feinstein, Kerri Strug, Richard Dreyfuss and Wendy Wasserstein. The length of their statements varies from a sentence or two to essays that cover several pages. Their thoughts are organized around the five basic themes of identity; heritage; covenant, chosenness and faith; humanity; and tikkun ha'olam (repairing the world). The respondents provide anecdotes, theological formulations, personal reactions, biblical references and historical reflections, ranging widely from the superficial to the profound. Among the few Israeli contributors is Avrum Burg, an outspoken critic of the Sharon government and its policies. He argues eloquently that being a Jew places on him a special obligation to work for peace. Others place different constructions on what it means to be Jewish. Lack of consensus highlights the extreme variations in Jewish views, indicating that one value of this collection is its demonstration that a healthy diversity of opinion continues to characterize the Jewish community.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Judea and Ruth Pearl are the parents of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter who was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, and whose final words were, "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish." The book contains statements by 146 contributors expressing what being Jewish means to them. They range from major essays to a paragraph or a sentence from scholars, entertainers, authors, rabbis, and others, covering the religious, professional, and political spectrum. Responses have been placed into four categories: identity; heritage; covenant, chosenness, and faith; humanity; and tikkun ha'olam ("repairing the world") and justice. Among the contributors are A. B. Yehoshua, Daniel Schoff, Mike Wallace, Norman Lear, Kitty Dukakis, Shimon Peres, Cynthia Ozick, and Larry King. A fitting tribute to Daniel Pearl. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights; 1st edition (2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580231837
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580231831
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #915,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I recently purchased this book and was truly touched by it. I have to admit that I am saddened that some believe that this is too "narrow" because it focuses on what being Jewish means to Jews. Of course this book is not simply for Jews; in fact, I would love for my non-Jewish brothers and sisters to read it to understand what being Jewish means to us. What if it were a book about another community? Can no one write about their own community?

The first part of international understanding is understanding oneself and this book does a great job at this.
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By A Customer on May 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I had to respond to the criticism that this book is only for the "narrow Jewish community". I thought exploring various people's thoughts on what it means to be Jewish was an excellent idea. I am not Jewish and I felt the book was aimed at me as much as is it at Jewish people. Daniel Pearl's last words were "I am Jewish", so why not explore what this means? This was not intended as a biography - his wife has written a book, and there are others that deal with Daniel Pearl as an individual and in the larger context of his murder and terrorism.
This seemed to me to be a very positive means of celebrating his life. I thought the stories were interesting and felt it did what it set out to do.
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Format: Hardcover
It is difficult to write a few lines about this book without thinking about the cruel and evil event that led to it. The murder of Daniel Pearl simply because he was Jewish would seem to take us back into the darkest times of Jewish and human history, to the Nazi era. And in truth the new Islamic Fundamentalism in whose name Pearl was murdered is a frightening and abhorrent phenomenom which is a threat to human civilization and freedom as a whole.

Pearl's last words ' My father is a Jew. My mother is a Jew . I am a Jew' are as I understand it a courageous affirmation of his own identity and connection with his people. It connects with generations of Jewish martyrs who died on ' Kiddush Hashem' crying out as their last words the Jewish declaration of faith in G-d, " Shema Yisrael"

The book itself consists in around one- hundred and fifty personal statements by largely well- known Jews about what being Jewish means to them. The selection to my taste is a little slanted to the ' left and to the Diaspora' and should in my opinion have had more Israelis, and more with a strong religious identity. There are a few who I would not have included. But on the whole the selection is varied, interesting and provides a great deal of meaningful thought. I especially was touched by the words of Kerri Strug the courageous Olympic gymnast but there are many other inspiring accounts also.

This is an important book for anyone who wishes to see the collective face of the Jewish people at this time.
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By A Customer on March 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
To add to the debate- this book was a project inspired by a 13 yeard old girl just before the rite of passage that brought her to Jewish adulthood. Detractors below complain about the book's "limited perspective" and seem to accuse Daniel's parents (who carried this project through) of exploiting their son's name to explore the mosaic of Jewish perspectives. Perhaps if this book was intended to be a life history, collection of Daniel's work, or tome of political essays exploring the region, their critiques would have some merit. Instead, this book does exactly what it has set out to do-- it has gathered together the views of Jewish individuals who had all been affected by Daniel's death, and who were made to think about their Judaism through the lens of Daniel's last words.
My one complaint is that the spectrum of Jews selected largely neglect the voices of Jews of color, who deal with yet a different set of issues in claiming their Jewishness every day.
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Format: Hardcover
A brilliant and inspiring collection of almost 150 people from a dozen countries. I couldn't put it down. Made me realize the wide range of Jewish thinking about what it means to be a Jew in the world today, and made me think about my own identity and how I can be a better person and a better Jew. I already bought copies for two upcoming bar/bat mitzvah kids to help them think about what it means to be a Jewish person. A great positive identity builder.
I read the critical review from the person from Montreal who seems to have more irrelevant opinions than appropriate comments. I have to wonder how anyone who actually saw the book and read what it was intended to achieve can write such a silly review. Amazon should screen things to make sure that they are relevant. If the title wasn't "I Am Jewish" then what would be the point of the book and its relevance to Mr. Pearl's tragic murder? How could it be "Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl"? And if the contributors were not all Jews, how could they speak about being Jewish personally? If someone wants to know what non-Jews think about people being Jewish, then go do a different book. This one does what it intended to do wonderfully and will be a classic for adults and youngsters, Jews and non-Jews, alike. Congratulations to the editors and publisher!
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