A Catholic man who loves Morrissey moves to Israel to study writing. Among his neighbours he finds five remarkable people—three students, a teacher, and a rabbi—who show him the ways that young lives blossom and stray among the people of the Book.
May 13, 2021: Gaza is on fire. Military police and armed citizens descend on Sheik Jarrah while rage and hatred drive lethal destruction in Jerusalem and at least six other Israeli cities. Everywhere the divide between Palestinian and Israeli widens, and into the gap pour streams of despair, anger, hope, condemnation, every possible unmanageable human emotion—the ones that prevent us from seeing the face of “the other” as human. What a time to publish this nuanced portrait of five Israeli Jews forging their intellectual and political selves in the crucible of Judaism’s enduring faith in the Book. Ben Shields researched and wrote his report from January until April, just before the still-unfolding events of this week. His sympathetic curiosity may be in scarce supply now, but that makes it all the more important to publish him. Step back. Stand face-to-face with these people and hope that someday we’ll be capable of doing the same, face-to-face, in Gaza, East Jerusalem, and everywhere in this burning world.
1 March, 2022