History and Israel

Have you ever pulled out from your parking space without first bothering to look out of your rear view mirror to see if it was safe to do so? If you do so regularly, you are a good candidate to sustain a collision and possible serious injury. You really can't drive well in front of you if you don't know what is going on behind you. Well, the same rule applies pretty much to achieving a meaningful future as a Jew as well. Your chances for a really permanent connection to Judaism and Jewish life and Jewish destiny are directly proportional to your knowledge and connection with Jewish history and the Jewish past. The current Jewish world suffers from a severe case of amnesia. Jews ask themselves: "Who am I?" "Where am I?" "Why should I care about remaining Jewish?" A knowledge and perspective of Jewish history will allow one to regain that most precious of spiritual gifts - memory, especially Jewish memory.

There are many basic questions that arise from even a cursory review of Jewish history. What is the secret of Jewish survival and vitality over the millennia? Why are the Jews hated so by large sections of the non-Jewish world? What does Judaism really stand for and teach? What is it that has united Jews the world over throughout the centuries, in spite of the true pluralism and contentious nature of Jews that has existed within Jewish life over its long history? Reading books in Jewish history will strengthen one's view of the unique role of Jews throughout the history of civilization. It will broaden one's horizons of personal life and enhance every experience one has with Jewish life and faith.

History books can be lethally boring. Too many names, dates, geographical locations and details. One never sees the forest for the trees.. This certainly was true regarding books on Jewish history for many decades. However, in recent decades, books on Jewish history have appeared that are aware of this problem. They therefore are no longer works for the scholars, professors and professional historians alone, but rather are intended to give all Jews a sense of the grandeur and sweep of Jewish history and its relevance to our own lives and times. Our century is witness to one of the most wondrous events in Jewish, if not world, history - the reestablishment of an independent Jewish state in the homeland of the Jewish people, the Land of Israel. Concomitant with this wondrous event, is the equally wondrous phenomenon of the ingathering of the exiles of the Jewish people from all over the world to live and build the Land of Israel. As the State of Israel has experienced over 50 years of independence, the Jewish world and the general world as well are filled with renewed interest regarding this miraculous little state that has done so much in so short a time. How did the state begin? What are the stories of its leaders? What of its struggles and its wars, its victories and defeats, its accomplishments and disappointments? And perhaps more importantly, the basic if almost always unasked question that should nag every Jew- where do I fit in this entire story? What does it have to do with me? It is important to have a relationship with the State of Israel. By reading books, viewing videos and CDs, regarding Israel, by visiting Israel and becoming familiar with its story and dreams. There is a wide variety of books produced in honor of Israel's fiftieth anniversary. One should avail oneself of this golden opportunity to know and understand the land, the people and the story of the State of Israel. Picture books, travel books, biographies and stories of the State of Israel are in abundance now. Bring a piece of Israel into your homes and into the lives of the members of your family. It will be an experience you will treasure your entire life.

This catalog will make such books, videos and CDs available to you and your family. It will help you achieve a level of knowledge of Judaism and the Jewish people in a relatively painless, thoroughly interesting and enjoyable fashion. I guarantee that the awareness of Jewish history and the Land of Israel will transform your attitudes, opinions and even your life. I hope you will avail yourself of the sterling opportunity that this path affords you.



Rabbi Berel Wein

Rabbi Berel Wein is the rabbi of Congregation Bais Torah, Suffern, New York and the rosh yeshiva of Shaarei Torah of Rockland. He is a member of the Illinois bar, the former Executive Vice-President and Rabbinic Administrator of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and an avid student of general and Jewish history. He is the recipient of the Covenant Foundation's Jewish Educator of the Year award for 1993. He is the author of a popular, major cassette series on Jewish history.