The People of the Book
By Yaffa Abadi
A vivid memory of one of my first “wow” Aliyah moments: It’s a Friday and I’m sitting on the floor, in an overcrowded bus, stuck in traffic, on route to Jerusalem. However, instead of grumbling and moaning as I most definitely would be doing today, back then I was full of Olah Chadasha magic and barely aware of the hot and sticky world around me.
Rather, I was enthralled with the book in my hands, “The Exodus” by Leon Uris, a fiction novel about the passions and struggles of those early Zionists. Newly Israeli myself, the charged story took over my emotions and I sat there, between Israeli soldiers and teenage backpackers, as the tears of appreciation for the atmosphere around me and the story before me streamed down my face.
Oh, the power of Literature… relentlessly making me cry and laugh in public places.
This beautifully written novel is only one of the thousands of rich, intricate and vastly different books with Israel as their central focus. No one story is the same and each piece of literature, whether fiction, biographical, or historical, contributes to the rich and complex tapestry that makes up our land.
It is no wonder we are coined “The People of the Book”. This unofficial name of the Jewish nation captures a truth of our national identity. Books have been and continue to be one of the backbones of our growth, movement and depth as a nation.
From Godly works like our Tanach, Gemara and other Holy scriptures, the Jewish nation has emerged and over time, with the transition into a modern nation with a land and character of her own, books continue to bind us together. As a nation as complex as our, consisting of people that range from one extreme to the other, one way to tap into our multi-dimensional identity is to tap into the written word that exposes and re-creates different and unique narratives of the land.
And the beauty is, you can be anywhere in the world, and still be on the world of Israel, transported through the written word. The Israel Forever Foundation understands the power of Israeli literature, and with that knowledge has created an easy way to search, and access the books that cover all facets of Israel through our Reading Israel initiative.
Through exploring Israeli literature, you are exploring Israel herself, and through exposing your mind to different thoughts and opinions regarding the land, your relationship with Israel becomes intrinsically more connected, more in touch, and more in tuned.
Yaffa Abadi is a twenty year old who made Aliyah just over a year ago from South Africa. She has a passion for creative writing and am currently studying English Literature and Philosophy at the Hebrew University while trying to navigate my way as an Olah Chadasha.