Jewish writers play with words. Combine words to get a story. Add the time dimension and it becomes history. Jews have their Tanakh, laws, prophets and scriptures (poems, stories, proverbs, etc.). Jews have a richer history than geography. Father Amos and daughter Fania Oz -Salzberger collaborated on this language meets history endeavor. As secular Jews the Oz-bornes don’t believe in God, don’t have a high esteem on othodox Jews living in Bnei Brak (Jerusalem) and could therefore pick and choose from the Bible, both Tanakh as well as the Christian New or Second Testament, Talmud, Midrash and Jewish novelists from the 19th and 20th century.
Blended storytelling, scholarship, conversation and a superficial argument (take our word for it) leads the reader to the importance of continuity, woman, time and timelessness, individualism and name giving. From the unnamed female author of the Song of Songs, thousands of Talmudists that are called by name to the contemporary literature of Isaac Bashevis Singer and David Grossman.
Jewish continuity itself according to the authors doesn’t rely on monetheism, monuments, palaces or a distinct peace of land. The fear of being called one nation, one people, or other definitions of the Jewish identity they’re still at the core of it: a continuum. Pity to see the Eternal God who promises his children that He’ll never forsake them and always love them. In my humble opinion the ultimate continuum. History’s lessons from assimilation and secularization are given to us as well. Despite these shortcomings Jews and Words is full of lyricism (translated Hebrew poems), learning and humor (another Jewish cultural heritance). Both authors invite their readers to join the dialogue and make history.
About the authors
Amos Oz is the internationally renowned author of more than fifteen works of fiction and numerous essays on politics, literature, and peace. He is also professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva. He lives in Arad, Israel. His daughter, Fania Oz-Salzberger is a writer, historian, and professor at the University of Haifa. She recently held the Leon Liberman Chair in Modern Israel Studies at Monash University, and a Visiting Laurance S. Rockefeller Professorship for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University. She lives in Zichron Yaakov, Israel.
I received a review copy from netgalley.com with just one obligation: to read the book and write an honest, personal review.