The Wondering Jew Israel and the Search for Jewish Identity Micah Goodman, Eylon Levy

Publication date:
12 Jan 2021
Yale University Press
264 pages: 235 x 156 x 24mm
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A celebrated Israeli author explores the roots of the divide between religion and secularism in Israel today, and offers a path to bridging the divide

"A thoughtful social, political, and philosophical examination of Judaism. . . . A cogent consideration of the place of religion in the modern world."—Kirkus Reviews

Zionism began as a movement full of contradictions, between a pull to the past and a desire to forge a new future. Israel has become a place of fragmentation, between those who sanctify religious tradition and those who wish to escape its grasp. Now a new middle ground is emerging between religious and secular Jews who want to engage with their heritage—without being restricted by it or losing it completely.
In this incisive book, acclaimed author Micah Goodman explores Israeli Judaism and the conflict between religion and secularism, one of the major causes of political polarization throughout the world. Revisiting traditional religious sources and seminal works of secularism, he reveals that each contains an openness to learn from the other’s messages. Goodman challenges both orthodoxies, proposing a new approach to bridge the divide between religion and secularism and pave a path toward healing a society torn asunder by extremism.

Micah Goodman is president of Beit Prat, one of the leading organizations in Israel for young adults, and a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. The author of Catch‑67, he is considered one of the most original and influential public intellectuals in Israel.

“Goodman’s thinking is original and daring, and his exposition clear and concise. The book is buzzing with eye-opening insights and satisfying turns of phrase.”—Robin Moss, Fathom

“What a delight to once again read the wisdom, relish the immense scholarship, experience the passion, and hear the singular voice of Micah Goodman. The Wondering Jew is a modern Jewish classic, an essential read for all those who care about the future of Judaism, of Israel, and the Jewish people.”—Michael B. Oren, author of Six Days of War

“With this masterwork, Goodman completes his great project, begun with his previous book, Catch-67, of analyzing and helping heal Israel’s political and cultural rifts. This book will help American readers understand why Micah Goodman is regarded by his fellow Israelis as one of the few indispensable voices of this generation.”—Yossi Klein Halevi, Shalom Hartman Institute and author of Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

“In The Wondering Jew, Micah Goodman tackles Israel’s religious-secular divide, pointing to the insights and contributions of each side, bravely imagining a renewed Israeli Judaism that might speak to and inspire both.”—Daniel Gordis, author of Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn

“Fluidly written and brimming with original insights, this brilliant book acutely frames the contours of Israeli Jewish thought and identity.”—Yehudah Mirsky, Brandeis University, author of Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution

“What a joy it is to read Micah Goodman's calm, intelligent and authoritative analysis of the explosive divide between the religious and the secular. His cogent solutions offer healing and hope for all of society. This book is not just important--it's necessary.”—Francine Klagsbrun, author of Lioness: Golda Meir and the Nation of Israel