[by David Wallace]
101 Reasons to Visit Israel (and perhaps make aliyah) by Estie and Dovid Solomon. ARTZY Books, Jerusalem. PB. 133 pages. $12.95.
101 Reasons to Visit Israel serves as a colorful introduction to Israel. It includes sections on “Life for Children,” “Shabbat and Holidays,” “Nature,” “Spiritual Learning,” “Kosher Food,” “Lifestyles,” “Considering Aliyah,” “Places to Go, Things to See” and Favorite Sights.”
The illustrations are colorful and the advice is good though brief and simplistic. This might be a good place to start when considering a trip or aliyah to Israel but it is only a beginning. 101 Reasons to Visit Israel is an appetizer but the full meal involves research, networking and hard work. Begin, but don’t stop here.
The Kaballah Handbook: A Concise Encyclopedia of Terms and Concepts in Jewish Mysticism by Gabriella Samuel. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, New York, NY. 467 pages with Appendices and Index. PB. $19.95.
“The Kaballah Handbook is designed,” so the author says, “to be a one-stop source for in-depth and accurate discussions of Kaballistic thought – its times, concepts, history, philosophy, and practice.” (9) It aims “to reconnect the rich mystical heritage of Kaballah with the very rituals it birthed – which still play prominent roles in Jewish religious life of today…” (2)
Its approach is that of a sophisticated Dictionary. There are more than 500 key terms; Hebrew, English, and Hebrew transliteration; language of origin of each term; pronunciation guide; historical information; cross referencing; cross section of different opinions; and tables and charts for clarification. The Kaballah Handbook is written in precise form and is valuable for those who wish to reference quickly a particular item or spend hours in more detailed study. It is a valuable addition to a field, which in modern times, as Samuels puts it, has suffered “exploitation by entrepreneurial purveyors of McMysticism.” (3) Serious study begins with the Kaballah itself and The Kaballah Handbook right by your side.