From Aliyah to Megidoo and Netanyahu to Zionism, this vibrant A-to-Z guide—or rather Z-to-A, Hebrew-style—examines more than 3,000 years of this postage stamp–sized land’s history. With the 26 letters of the alphabet paired with lighthearted text and colorful illustrations, this fun fact book explores the heart, the soul, and the foundation of the Jewish people—the homeland from where their ancient traditions, culture, and values have come. Through Hebrew words, interesting facts, poignant quotes, and profound teachings, each letter comes to life with a significant aspect of the land’s background.
About the Author
Rabbi Steven Stark Lowenstein was ordained at the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and currently serves Congregation Am Shalom in Glencoe, Illinois. He is the author of For the Love of Being Jewish. He lives in Glencoe, Illinois. Mark Anderson is the illustrator and designer of For the Love of the Cubs and For the Love of Being Jewish. His illustrations have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, BusinessWeek, National Geographic, the New Yorker, Time, and many other periodicals. He lives in Chicago.
Read an Excerpt
For the Love of Israel
By Rabbi Steven, Stark Lowenstein, Mark Anderson
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2012 Steven Stark Lowenstein
All rights reserved.
Abba Father Achla Wow Ahalan Hello Achad One Acharai After me Ahavah Love Al hapanim Awful Am People
"A" is for
To go up a steep ascent Following in the footsteps of Abraham, Who crossed over the Fertile Crescent.
According to tradition, traveling to the Land of Israel is an ascent, both geographically and metaphysically. Anyone traveling to Eretz Israel from Egypt, Babylonia, or the Mediterranean basin (where many Jews lived in early rabbinic times), climbed to a higher altitude. In 1933, David Wolfsohn was given the task of creating a flag for the Jewish State to be unveiled at the Zionist congress. He chose a combination of the Magen David (the star/shield of David) and the tallit (the traditional prayer shawl). The sky-blue color is said to evoke the presence of God. The interlocking triangles point in all directions, forever linking the past and the future. The beauty of Israel ... always look up.
Once I sat on the steps by a gate at David's Tower, I placed my two heavy baskets at my side. A group of tourists was standing around their guide and I became their target marker. 'You see that man with the baskets? Just right of his head there's an arch from the Roman period. Just right of his head.' 'But he's moving, he's moving!' I said to myself: redemption will come only if their guide tells them, 'You see that arch from the Roman period? It's not important: but next to it, left and down a bit, there sits a man who's bought fruit and vegetables for his family.'" ~ Tourists by Yehuda Amechai
Boker tov Good morning Betayavon Enjoy your meal B'seder A-Okay Bevakasha Please B'hatzlacha Good luck Bakbook Bottle Balagan A mess
"B" is for Birth right, A privilege, a heritage, a right To eat Bissli and Bamba With never a fear or fright.
"In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles." "This country made us a people; our people made this a country."
~ David Ben - Gurion
Bamba has been Israel's most popular snack food since it was first created in 1963. It controls 25 percent of the snack-food market in Israel. Made with peanut butter-flavored stuffed corn, it has been called cheese doodles without the cheese. Its rival Bissli comes in many different flavors and many different shapes. Biss means "bite," li means "for me."
"The source of our friendship runs deeper than any treaty. It is grounded in the shared spirit of our people. The bonds of the book, the ties of the soul." ~ George W. Bush
Chaver Friend Chaval al hazman Amazing Chagiga Party Chadash New Chalutzim Pioneers Cheshbon Check/bill Chamudi Cutie Chayalim Soldiers Chaval Too bad Chaim Life
"C" is for the Chalutzim,
The pioneers who changed our way. Like "Our Man in Damascus" and Omri Casspi in the NBA.
The early Chalutzim who came to Israel to drain swamps and make the desert bloom considered themselves revolutionaries. They had not come just to change the condition of the land, but also to change themselves. They were aiming for a revolution in the character of the entire Jewish people. They came to the country to transform it, and in so doing, they transformed themselves. Eli Cohen was a Jewish Egyptian recruited in 1960 by the Mossad (Israel's secret service) to become a special agent in Damascus. Living under the name Kamel Amin Tsa'abet, he infiltrated the highest levels of Syrian intelligence and sent crucial messages back to the Mossad to aid the Israeli effort. In 1965 his radio message was intercepted, and he was caught and publically hanged in Damascus.
Omri Casspi, in 2009, became the first Israeli selected in the first round of the National Basketball Association draft. The Sacramento Kings selected him with the the 23 pick in the draft. In the Jewish world, a 6-foot, 9-inch small forward is a GIANT and is looked up to by 99.9 percent of population. And he can jump!
"America and Israel share a special bond. Our relationship is unique among all nations. Like America, Israel is a strong democracy, a symbol of freedom, and an oasis of liberty, a home to the oppressed and persecuted." ~ Bill Clinton
Dati Religious Dash Regards Derech Eretz Way of the Land Dachlil Scarecrow Dor Generation
"D" is for Degania, The country's first collective farm. On this kibbutz Moshe Dayan was born; A hero filled with bravery and charm.
Moshe Dayan belonged to a new generation of tough, home-grown military commanders. He was born in 1915 to Shmuel Dayan, a member of Degania, the very first kibbutz, which was located near the Sea of Galilee. He joined the Haganah in his teens and in 1941 lost an eye in an operation against French forces in Lebanon. Beginning in 1948, Dayan held many positions in the Israel Defense Forces. He was chief of staff and a minister of defense during the 1967 War. Besides his military career, Dayan was a farmer, a secret poet, an amateur archaeologist, a politician, and a statesman who usually spoke briefly and to the point — a rarity for any politician, especially an Israeli one.
"Israel and the Palestinians must resolve their own differences. The United States can play an important role as facilitator and guarantor." ~ Alan Dershowitz
Ein bayah Not a problem Eretz Yisrael The Land of Israel Erev tov Good evening Efshar Possible Etgar Challenge Eifo hasherutim? Where is the bathroom? Esser A perfect 10
"E" is for Elite, Scrumptious and delicious candy. The chocolate is always tasty And coffee always quite dandy.
Eliyahu Fromenchenko started making chocolate in his home kitchen in Latvia in 1918. He made his way to Israel in 1933, bought land in Ramat Gan near Tel Aviv, and began making chocolate — lots and lots of chocolate. In 1958 Elite branched out into coffee. Coffee in Israel is serious business. Israelis don't just drink coffee, they appreciate it. In Israel you don't "grab a cup of coffee." Instead, you sit down, take it slow, and enjoy a cup of coffee. In the army, coffee is made in a finjan right in the open fire. In Israel, you can enjoy Turkish coffee, botz or "mud coffee," and Nescafé. (In Hebrew nes means "miracle," so in Israel instant coffee was thought to be a miracle.) No matter where you look, you will not find a Starbucks: Starbucks coffee just doesn't have enough caffeine to jolt this society.
"One can be an internationalist without being indifferent to the members of one's tribe. The Zionist cause is very close to my heart. ... I am glad that there should be a little patch of earth on which our kindred brethren are not considered aliens."
~ Albert Einstein
There are no words in Hebrew that start with the letter F — only foreign words.
"F" is for Falafel, The country's most famous fast food. But don't be surprised when the waiter who serves it Is opinionated, obnoxious, or rude.
Yummy ... Israel is a smorgasbord of different traditions, styles, religions, and nationalities ... all cooking together in the same kitchen using very different recipes. Yet the common ingredient is the chickpea, used for hummus and falafel. Hummus is a thick and rich puree of chickpeas, tahini oil, lemon juice, and garlic served with fresh, piping-hot pita bread. Falafel is ground-up, spicy chickpea balls (ping-pong size) deep fried and served with hummus and salads. This is Israeli fast food. Throw in shakshouka (eggs, tomatoes, onions, and peppers) for breakfast, shawarma (slow-roasted, spiced lamb) for lunch, and bourekas (pastry puffs stuffed with cheese, meat, veggies, or potatoes) for dinner. And don't forget some chocolate rugelach for dessert. By the way, eating a falafel without dripping the various ingredients on your chin, shirt, or shoes can only be mastered by natives!
"The Israelis have more courage in their pinky finger that I have in my whole life. Going to the supermarket in Eretz Yisroel is an act of courage." ~ Tovah Feldshuh
Geula Redemption Gibor Hero Gam ze letova For the best Gleeda Ice cream
"G" is for Galilee andGolan Heights, A mountainous region quite rocky; And for teacher and politician Golda Meir The greatest import from Milwaukee.
The lush and fertile Galilee and the mountainous Golan Heights are two of the most beautiful and most traveled parts of Israel. Both regions are filled with scenic treasures as well as lovely nature reserves, historic sites, and archaeological wonders. The natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes make these areas unique and wondrous.
"God said to Abraham: 'Go forth from your native land and from your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing.'"
~ Genesis 12:1
"I am a Jew and like my ancestors, I long for Zion and Jerusalem. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be. It is prayer that keeps the dream alive." ~ Ari L. Goldman
Har Mountain Hasbara PR/information Halom Dream Hallo Howdy Harbeh Lots Hatikvah The Hope
"H" is for
One of the oldest languages still spoken, And for Zionist thinker Theodor Herzl, Whose dream has never been broken.
Israel is one of the world's youngest countries speaking perhaps the oldest language. Spoken Hebrew was dead for a couple thousand years. It was kept alive only through study of the Torah and prayer. When the great Zionist dream began in the 19 century, Hebrew again was taught and spoken. Thus the vision of Eleazar Ben Yehuda, originator of the modern idea of the nation of Israel reborn in its own land and with its own language, has come true.
"When I go to Israel every stone and every tree is a reminder of hard labor and glory, of prophets and psalmists, of loyalty and holiness. The Jews go to Israel not only for physical security for themselves, and their children; they go to Israel for renewal, for the experience of resurrection. ... Israel enables us to bear the agony of Auschwitz without radical despair, to sense a ray of God's radiance in the jungles of history." ~ Abraham Joshua Heschel
"At Basel, I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, I would be answered by universal laughter. If not in five years, certainly in 50, everyone will know it." ~ Theodor Herzl, diaries, 1897
Ima Mom Ish Man Isha Woman Im tirzu If you will it
"I" is for Ilan,
The astronaut who flew through space. But if you really want to see a miracle, Independence Hall is the place.
The home of Zina and Meir Dizengoff was one of the first houses built in Tel Aviv. It was chosen to host the Declaration of the State on Friday May 14, 1948. Those who received an invitation didn't even know what they were attending. A few minutes after 4 PM, David Ben-Gurion read Israel's Declaration of Independence, the band played Hatikvah, and the rabbi said a prayer. With seven hostile armies poised to attack the very next day, the joy and celebration of Statehood was short-lived. The Dizengoff home is now known as Independence Hall.
"The State if Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions." ~ Israel's Declaration of Independence
In 1997, Colonel Ilan Ramon was selected by NASA to serve as a payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia; he was the first Israeli astronaut. The seven-member crew launched on January 16, 2003, for a 16-day mision. During the mission, Ramon conducted a number of experiments, and the flight was considered a great success. He said, "Being the first Israeli astronaut — I feel I am representing all Jews and all Israelis. ... I'm the son of a Holocaust survivor — I carry on the suffering of the Holocaust generation, and I'm proof that despite all the horror they went through, we're going forward." Kosher meals were provided by NASA for his journey and he consulted with rabbis before leaving about the proper way to observe Shabbat in space. Ramon carried poems, photographs, and letters as well as a credit card–size microfiche copy of the Torah. He also took a pencil drawing titled "Moon Landscape" by a 14year-old Jewish boy, Peter Ginz, killed at Auschwitz. Ramon was a national hero and a symbol of hope. Tragically, minutes before landing, Columbia exploded, killing everyone on board. May Ilan Ramon's memory be for a blessing and inspire us all to reach for the sky.
"J" is for
Jerusalem is a city of contrasts: Jews, Muslims, Christians; ancient and new neighborhoods; houses of prayer of all communities and religions; tourists filling the streets and alleys. First and foremost, from the viewpoint of most Israelis and Jews, it is the present and eternal capital of Israel. Naomi Shemer the first lady of song in Israel, composed many beautiful lyrics and poems. Her most famous was "Jerusalem of Gold," released just before the start of the Six-Day War in 1967. "Jerusalem of gold, and of bronze and of light. I am an instrument for all your songs ..."
"It was Friday — "Erev Shabbat" — when we arrived. The Sabbath Queen was quickly approaching and the entire city was preparing for the arrival of the royal guest. Everywhere, stores were closing and public transportation was coming to a halt. As the siren was sounded, stillness descended on the Holy City. Suddenly, scores of people spilled into the streets. They came from every direction: young and old, men and women, Israelis and tourists, students and soldiers, pious Hasidim in long black coats, and Westernized Jews in business suits. They came from the four corners of the world; they spoke in many tongues and espoused many ideas. Wondrously, they all merged into one — all rushing, running to the same place, to the Western Wall. I came close to the wall and poured out my soul. A gentle breeze was in the air and a wonderful serenity descended upon me. I looked up at the foliage sprouting from the crevices. Strange how these little flowers grow without being watered by the tears of a nation that had been waiting for two thousand years."
~ Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
Kol tuv All the best Kol hakavod All the honor KodeshHoly Kesef Money Kesher Connection Kadima Go forward Kacha kacha So so Kef Fun Keshet Rainbow Kumsitz Campfire
"K" is for the
Politics from the center, left, and right. Parties are formed by anyone And change from morning to night.
It is said that during Golda Meir's term as prime minister, she made her most important decisions sitting in her kitchen with just a few advisors — thus the term "kitchen cabinet," a place many important politicians want to be. Israel is a parliamentary democracy with legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The head of the state is the president, whose duties are mostly ceremonial and formal; the office symbolizes the unity and sovereignty of the State. The Knesset, Israel's legislative authority, is a 120-member unicameral parliament, which "hopefully" operates in plenary session. In Israel, it doesn't take much to start a political party; at any given time there could be 40 different parties vying for seats.
"Israel is the child of hope and the home of the brave." ~ John F. Kennedy
" Israel is one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality." ~ Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Lehitraot See ya soon Lama Why Lo No Lama lo Why not Lila tov Good night Lo ba li I don't feel like it Lifamim Sometimes Libriut To your health La-gam-rai Totally
"L" is for
That flows with milk and honey And music ... and art ... And comedians who are quite funny.
Excerpted from For the Love of Israel by Rabbi Steven, Stark Lowenstein, Mark Anderson. Copyright © 2012 Steven Stark Lowenstein. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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