A year in Jerusalem questioning American Jews who "return" to Israel and to traditional religion changes Wendy Goldberg's life forever.
Every year, 700,000 Americans visit Israel. Wendy Goldberg spends a year in Jerusalem questioning the lives of American Jews who do "Aliya"âa return both to Israel itself and to traditional religious practices. Are they sincere? Are they happier? The unexpected answers and Wendy's experiences (a bus bombing, a funeral, an unexpected suicide, a love affair, and a lawsuit) lead her to reconsider her own true Jewish identity.
The ambitious graduate student is certain she's on the path to academic glory. But from the moment her plane takes off Wendy is confronted with unanswerable questions of faith and identity. As she becomes immersed in the rhythm of Israeli life, her sense of distance from it fades. Her ability to be an outside observer terminates abruptly when a student commits a horrible act immediately after his interview with her. Wendy is not sure how or if she is implicated in his action, but in her search for understanding, she is led to knowledge and love in unforeseen places.
Beth Kissileff, a resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has received fellowships from Yaddo and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has taught at Carleton College, the University of Minnesota, Smith College, and Mount Holyoke College. Her fiction and nonfiction on Israeli cultural, literary, and religious topics appears regularly in many publications including the New York Times, The Forward, and The Jerusalem Post. She also the editor of a new book, Reading Genesis: Beginnings.