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I've just started reading an extraordinary book ...

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
... that I have to talk about it. Actually, the fact that I'm reading a book at all is mind-blowing to me , I don't get to do that much anymore ...

It's called "At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden," by Yossi Klein HaLevi, with the descriptor "A Jew's search for G-d with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land."

On the surface there's politics ... but that's only at the very outer surface.

Anyway, when I get further along, hopefully someone else will have picked it up and the thread will ... continue ...

- Amy
post #2 of 8
amy, my dh is reading this right now! He heard the author speak about it on NPR one day. So far he is only a few chapters into it, but I will try and read it after he is through.

I am familiar with the author as a journalist and have read several of his articles... it will be interesting to compare.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Well, I've gotten halfway through.

What's most fascinating about this book to me is the author is searching for common ground between Jews, Christians, and Muslims, but not in theology or philosophy. His interest is very basic, directed solely toward the immediate personal connection with the Divine achieved through prayer.

In the first section the author details his search for Muslims to pray with and to connect to G-d with. He is only able to meet with Sufis, a mystically-minded sect, and it's a difficult entre altogether in some ways, but almost too open and simple in other ways.

The next section he spends time in a convent in Jerusalem where most of the nuns live in silence and meditation ...

Just felt like updating the thread since I didn't want it to disappear into an archive somewhere once I'd finished the book and actually have something of worth to say about it ...

- Amy
post #4 of 8
amy, dh just finished the part where he meets in the convent with Mother Mary(?) and was just discussing it with me last night.

I will be definitely read it after he is through...and would love to discuss it. This is a busy time right now, though and cannot get to it until next week. Lots going on...
post #5 of 8
Amy- I am quite intrigued by this book. I went to Amazon and read 8 positive reviews about it (no negative). I was particularly struck by one person's comment that what HaLevi found is that "extremists" are essentially the same - whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim - and that if they met on the road they would see the same in each other. I was also inspired by the hopefulness and joy which he seems to have found. I am very interested in reading it and will put it on my "to read" list, which unfortunately is quite long.
post #6 of 8


I have read the book in its entirety--I read it in less than a week, because I got it on interlibrary loan, and I am going to jump in again tonight and make a few notes for my memory.

This book is excellent, and in my opinion is a must-read for anyone interested in comparative studies of the "Big Three," the Middle East mess, or their neighbors of different religions. It is not specifically about any of these, in fact it transcends them. It is a wonderful book. Especially after reading and participating on some of the threads of late in Spirituality, I think we'd do well to all have a read, and then talk. The author's obvious love for his new (non-Jewish) friends is so present throughout the book, keeping his perspective sincere and genuine.

He presents the whole range of "types" within faiths--those who live secularly, those who look to commune, those who wish to exclude and isolate. He shows those who have faith in love, and those who have lost faith. And he makes it easy to see the POV of most of the players. In fact, while reading his discussions with some of the Christians, I almost fully understood where you (pl) find your peace in Trinitarian belief.

And that, in itself, makes this book extraordinary. Please read it.
post #7 of 8
well, with all these recommendations from some of the most thoughful women on these boards, guess I better call up my local libeary and get it on interlibrary. thanks for the heads-up, amy.
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
UmmNuh, thanks for kicking this thread back. I had to return it to the library before finishing it (on the reserve list, gotta do that again now & wait again), hopefully will be able to get it before the month is out. Looking forward to discussing it for sure ...

On a side note, when I was pregnant with DS#1 we met Eliyahu McLean ... had gotten a call from a friend in Jerusalem that this fellow was going to be in NY for Shabbos and in our shul (synagogue) and probably would need some hospitality in terms of meals (Sabbath-observant people wouldn't go to restaurants on Shabbos) so he ate with us that Shabbos.

The half of the book I read, Yossi K. Halevi described Eliyahu so accurately ... truly a one-man inspiration of interfaith understanding. And every so often we see him referred to in Jewish newspaper or Internet articles ... it's fun to follow his life from a distance. Would be good if we could all pray for his success in the world ...

- Amy
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