World Cultures in Perspective Book Reviews

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Association of Jewish Libraries, February 1, 2015

On Israeli Culture in Perspective

What do you get when you put six fictional Israeli teenagers together? Sure, there can be lots of hormones, wildness, and the joys of being above the age of Bar or Bat Mitzvah. Surprisingly at this age, there is empathy for each other and their backgrounds. For example, five Israeli Jewish teenagers who are around the age of fourteen visit Mahmoud and the Salman family in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem for coffee. And then all too coincidentally, Ori, a Sephardic Jew, and Nadav, an Ashkenazic Jew, discover they are from the same family roots and eat ma'aloumim (Sephardic cookies with a recipe towards the back). Rabbi Derovan's book is filled with idealism and does not touch too much on the realities of terrorism and mistrust. No bomb shelters, vehicular accidents, and weapons are mentioned. Maybe this was Rabbi Derovan's point to expose readers to the other side of Israel not seen in the news? The only other issues are that Mizrahi Jews are not mentioned in the book and the Druze and Bedouins are given sparse references. If you are looking for an upbeat book about Israel that by and large is very accurate and authentic, then this is what you need in your library. The recipe and art project at the back are helpful. The glossary, index, and bibliography add depth to this excellent academic work which is a worthy purchase in print or as an eBook.

Booklist, October 1, 2014

On Israeli Culture in Perspective

Israel is a complex society, as this title reveals when six teens meet at a doctor's office. Five realize that while their names are all Rabinowitz, their lifestyles are very different, so they decide to meet at the home of each to discuss their roots. Nadav's family is secular but becoming more religious. Ori is a Sephardic Jew with European roots, and he explains how the Sephardic culture has proliferated in Israel. Ziva is a religious nationalist, a Zionist whose culture is a mix of different Israeli ideas. Yityish is an Ethiopian Jew whose family arrived relatively recently. The most problematic representation is that of Shmulik, an Orthodox Jewish boy who would be unlikely to participate in these meetings, especially with girls present. Finally, the teens visit with an Arab-Israeli family. Both the individual and cultural stories are complicated. Readers may get a general sense of Israel in this volume from the World Cultures in Perspective series, but the details here can be confusing. For larger collections.