If a Place Can Make You Cry: Dispatches from an Anxious Stateby Daniel Gordis
In the summer of 1998, Daniel Gordis and his family moved to Israel from Los Angeles. They planned to be there for a year, during which time Daniel would be a Fellow at the Mandel Institute in Jerusalem. This was a euphoric time in Israel. The economy was booming, and peace seemed virtually guaranteed. A few months into their stay, Gordis and his wife decided to remain in Israel permanently, confident that their children would be among the first generation of Israelis to grow up in peace.
Immediately after arriving in Israel, Daniel had started sending out e-mails about his and his family’s life to friends and family abroad. These missives—passionate, thoughtful, beautifully written, and informative—began reaching a much broader readership than he’d ever envisioned, eventually being excerpted in The New York Times Magazine to much acclaim. An edited and finely crafted collection of his original e-mails, If a Place Can Make You Cry is a first-person, immediate account of Israel’s post-Oslo meltdown that
cuts through the rhetoric and stridency of most dispatches from that country or from the international media.
Above all, Gordis tells the story of a family that must cope with the sudden realization that they took their children from a serene and secure neighborhood in Los Angeles to an Israel not at peace but mired in war. This is the chronicle of a loss of innocence—the innocence of Daniel and his wife, and of their children. Ultimately, through Gordis’s eyes, Israel, with all its beauty, madness, violence, and history, comes to life in a way we’ve never quite seen before.
Daniel Gordis captures as no one has the years leading up to what every Israeli dreaded: on April 1, 2002, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared that Israel was at war. After an almost endless cycle of suicide bombings and harsh retaliation, any remaining chance for peace had seemingly died.
If a Place Can Make You Cry is 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. Like countless other Israeli parents, Gordis and his wife struggled to make their children’s lives manageable and meaningful, despite it all. This is a book about what their children gained, what they lost, and how, in the midst of everything, a whole family learned time and again what really matters.
From the Hardcover edition.
In 1998, Rabbi Daniel Gordis planned a one-year sabbatical in Jerusalem as a fellow at the Mandel Institute in a professional enrichment program. Entranced by an idyllic 12 months, he decided with his wife and three children to make their stay permanent, little knowing that soon would follow Rabin's assassination and a second intifada. Suddenly, the family was challenged in ways they hadn't imagined, and Gordis related it all in a series of e-mails to friends. (Some of the correspondence was eventually reproduced in the New York Times.) The missives convey the bewilderment of a man who had expected to live in peace with his family in the land of Israel, only to wake up and find himself in a gas-mask distribution center (conveniently located in a downtown Jerusalem department store) arguing about correct sizing for the kids. Day by day, Gordis struggles with his twin commitments to Israel and justice; a visit to founding father Ben Gurion's home prompts a meditation on the agony of Israeli and Palestinian children, both dying in the most absurd of ways. Much of the story is conveyed through the particulars of his own children’s acclimatization to a new city and their reactions to the moral and political morass. Pages of very readable political analysis provide an overview of the progression of what is called in Israel "the situation." The author's conclusions are not happy ones: "This is an ugly, dirty war, and we're being ugly and dirty enough to bring the world's wrath down on us, but not nearly uglyand dirty enough to win."
A work that dazzles with its nuance as it winds up to sock you in the gut.
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- Random House
- NOOK Book
- File size:
- 3 MB
Meet the Author
Daniel Gordis is the director of the Mandel Foundation’s Jerusalem Fellows Program. He was previously a vice president at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles and dean of its Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. He is the author of three previous books: Becoming a Jewish Parent (Harmony, 1999), Does the World Need the Jews? (Scribner, 1997), and God Was Not in the Fire (Scribner, 1995).
From the Hardcover edition.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews