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
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.