Make a note of the following books to read with the Ahavas Israel book group:
August - On August 11 the CAI Book Group will discuss Spies of No Country by Matti Friedman. It is about a pre-independence Zionist intelligence unit, the Arab Section, that operated inside the French Mandate territory for Syria and Lebanon towards the end of the British Mandate for Palestine.
November - All the Rivers, by Dorit Rabinyan (fiction)
Banned in Israeli schools by the Ministry of Education, All the Rivers introduces us to a love story fraught with controversy. Liat, the narrator, is a translator from Tel Aviv who while temporarily living in New York City on a fellowship, meets and is immediately entranced by Hilmi, a handsome and captivating Palestinian artist from Ramallah, living in Brooklyn. Although fully aware of the potential complications and repercussions, Liat engages in an intense and passionate six month relationship with Hilm until she returns to Israel. While the lovers’ political differences would pose an impenetrable obstacle to their romance in their respective homelands, the obstacle seems nonexistent in the diaspora of New York City. Rabinyan carefully portrays the trajectory of the relationship as it evolves from an innocent fling into a genuine and passionate love affair, albeit one that is overshadowed by the characters’ realities back home.
February, 2022 - Becoming Eve, by Abby Chava Stein (non-fiction)
“Holy Creator, I am going to sleep now, and I look like a boy. I am begging you, when I wake up in the morning, I want to be a girl…God, you have enough boys. You do not need me to be a boy. I promise, if I wake up as a girl, I will make up for it by having many boys, who will be the most studied and pious boys.”
Abby Chava Stein remembers saying this nightly prayer as a child, which encapsulates much of what makes her memoir captivating: the balance between her love for the Jewish community and Jewish learning, and the restrictiveness of communal norms, the balance of humor and heartbreak in her recollections of growing up, and the core personality of an inventive girl, always hungry for learning, living in a world where inventiveness was frowned upon.
May, 2022 - The Dovekeepers, by Alice Hoffman (fiction)
It’s not easy to make characters living in 70 C.E., fighting the Romans on Masada, breathe on the page, but Alice Hoffman’s masterpiece succeeds. Two women and five children survived the massacre, according to first-century Jewish historian Josephus. Hoffman builds upon his ancient account, using it as a starting point to tell the stories of four women whose divergent paths brought them to Masada.