The Source, by James Michener (Fawcett-Crest, New York 1965). About 1030 pages.
Number of ISP Credits: 2
This monumental novel, steeped in the history of the Land of Israel – from the 10th century BCE until 1964 – is ideal for preparing for Seminar in Israel. In a methodical but fascinating way it introduces the reader to key periods of history, along with the issues that the people had to deal with for their physical and spiritual survival. Although outdated in some details, it is a terrific introduction to archaeology and to many of the most important sites in Eretz Yisrael.
Assignment: Paul J. Zodman, the Jewish milionaire from Chicago, who is funding the dig, visits the site and says excitedly that, “for two thousand years whenever we Jews saw a soldier, it could only mean bad news. Because the soldier couldn’t be Jewish. He had to be an enemy. It’s no small thing to see a Jewish soldier, standing on his own soil, protecting Jews… not persecuting them.” (p. 60)
In Rebbe Itzik and the Sabra, the Jewish characters who risk their lives are different to the Jewish characters who died in the previous chapters of the book. Explain – using quotes from the text – what makes the “new Jew” (e.g. Schwartz) so different. How do you relate to the “new Jew,” and how does this differ from how you relate to the “old Jew?”
Exodus, by Leon Uris (Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1958. Paperback: Bantam Books, 1989). 630 pages.
Number of ISP Credits: 1
The classic novel about “illegal immigration” and the Jewish underground armies during the British Mandate through the creation of the State. Probably the best-known novel about Israel’s beginnings.
Assignment: Some people say that Israelis have a Holocaust mentality.
Because of their collective background people say that Israelis are strong-willed, tough, street-smart, and even obnoxious. After reading the book write a 3-page character sketch essay – clearly and well thought out and in proper style (opening paragraphs, body, conclusions and personal thoughts) – comparing the characters of Ari Ben Canaan to
Dov Landau. How do their approaches differ? Why do they differ? Assuming that each of them posses a “Holocaust mentality” (explain and define that term as you understand it…), and that they both have similar backgrounds and understanding of Jewish history, how is it possible that they should look at life so differently? Explain. Finally, if each were the prime minister of Israel today, how do you think each would deal with peace negotiations with the Palestinians? Explain.
The Hope, by Herman Wouk (Paperback. Little, Brown and Co., 1993). About 680 pages.
Number of ISP Credits: 1
In fictional form, The Hope reviews Israel’s first 20 years – from the War of Independence until after the Six-Day War. We recommend reading the historical notes at the back of the book before reading the novel.
Assignment: Write a short essay (about a page-long, typed, double-spaced) for each of the following questions. Be sure to base your answers on the book.
- Who was Mickey Marcus? What is the connection of this U.S. military man with the Israeli War of Independence? What kind of a man was he?
- There are several female characters in the book, each of whom has a completely different personality. Three of them are Yael Luria, Emily Cunningham and Shayna Matisdorf. Describe each of these women. What role does each play in the story? What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of each?
- Trace the history of the brothers Leopold and Joseph Blumenthal (the latter having changed his name to Don Kishote). What happens to each of them?
The Glory, by Herman Wouk (Paperback. Little, Brown and Co., 1994) (Sequel to The Hope)
No. of ISP Credits: 1
The Glory begins where The Hope left off and brings the reader through the Yom Kippur War, all the way up until the late 1980’s. We recommend reading the historical notes at the back of the book before reading the novel.
Assignment: Write essays tracing the life and character of three of the following characters (each should be about a page long, typed, double-spaced). What role did each play in the history of Israel (whether fictional or real)? Is each character a complicated one or one-dimensional?
Golda Meir; Zev Barak; Gorodish; Sam Pasternak; Moshe Dayan