Sunday, February 10, 2008

Book Review: 101 Reasons to Visit Israel

(and Even Make Aliyah)

by Ezra HaLevi

( A new book of “101 Reasons to Visit Israel” may have you packing your bags before you are half way through.

The book’s full title includes the fine print: “And perhaps make Aliyah” (Jewish immigration to Israel). The author, Esther Solomon, did just that, leaving a huge extended family in Baltimore and Montreal to make the town of Efrat, in Gush Etzion, her home.

“When we came to Israel three and a half years ago my youngest child was ten years old,” she recalls. “They give the kids off on Tuesday afternoons here so we started to go on trips across the country, taking pictures of the special or moving things we saw. I eventually said, ‘You know what, I bet we can write down a 101 great things about Israel and making Aliyah.’ I did, easily, and we spent many Tuesdays tracking them down and photographing them.”

Some of the 101 reasons (each with a full-color photo illustration):

* You can have family BBQs nine months out of the year.
* You can even donate food to needy families on the Sabbath (with photo of one of the many drop-boxes for such donations placed around the country).
* You will find the Biblical quote “for the elderly you must stand up” (Leviticus 19:32) on signs aboard public transportation.
* You may choose from excellent universal medical insurance.
* You can visit the lowest place on earth (the Dead Sea).
* Your dishwasher will have a special Sabbath cycle.
* You can find a minyan (prayer quorum of ten Jewish men) wherever you go.

Solomon said making the book helped her a lot with her own absorption. She herself was not as enthusiastic about living in Israel before she arrived. Her hope is that its publication will rectify the sin of the twelve spies, as outlined in Numbers 13-14, as well as to counteract the constant images of blood and conflict broadcast by today’s media.

The spies, ten out of twelve, brought back a negative report of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people, resulting in their demanding to be brought back to Egypt and being condemned to wander the desert for another 40 years. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, told the people, “The Land is very, very good.” It is they Solomon seeks to emulate.

The book, a coffee-table style composition – though soft-cover – leaves the reader smiling and wanting to contribute their own submissions.

Solomon even ends the book with a heartfelt personal invitation to every reader to come visit her home, and even stay for a Sabbath.
Click here to order the book from Amazon


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