Wrestling in the Daylight

A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity
by Brant Rosen

In Wrestling in the Daylight, Rosen patiently challenges the ways so many in the Jewish community seek to bend Judaism’s liberationist themes to the goal of justifying Israeli repression. His intervention is a revolutionary and prophetic act.Adam Horowitz

Wrestling in the Daylight, 2nd Edition

Wrestling in the Daylight is an insightful conversation on Zionism initiated by Rabbi Brant Rosen, a prominent Jewish activist from Chicago, on his social-justice blog Shalom Rav. After Israel’s brutal military attack on Gaza in 2008-2009, Rosen began to question his lifelong Zionist beliefs. Unlike the biblical Jacob, who wrestled with his conscience in the dark of night, Rosen chose to “wrestle in the daylight” with this issue through many thoughtful essays on his blog.

In this selection of content from Shalom Rav, Rosen includes both his own posts and those of his online commenters, granting readers unique insight into the largest controversy facing the American Jewish community today.

In the new introduction he has written for this second Edition, Rosen updates the story of the “wrestling” that both he and the American Jewish community have undertaken in recent years.

Brant Rosen is a Chicago-based rabbi, blogger, and social activist. He is currently the Midwest Regional Director for the American Friends Service Committee. In 2014, Rosen, who had lengthy previous experience as a congregational rabbi in Evanston, IL, co-founded a social-justice focused congregation, Tzedek Chicago.

Praise for the Second Edition
It’s hard enough to wrestle with Zionist as a secular Jew, but far more anguishing to do so as a rabbi. Wrestling in the a Daylight is a must read. It offers a unique opportunity for Jews and non-Jews alike to follow the evolution in thinking of a deeply spiritual Jewish rabbi as he breaks with long-cherished beliefs about Zionism, and embraces the liberation of the Palestinians. As a secular Jew, I find solace in Rosen’s writing. It shows me that Jews who hold truly sacred, compassionate values must, sooner or later, reject the Zionist dream. Brant’s construction of a new dream, one in which no ethnic group holds privilege over another, is indeed a dream worth wrestling for.Medea Benjamin, author and cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace
Deeply grounded in the Jewish tradition of questioning one’s own and one’s community’s conscience, Wrestling in the Daylight is a work of extraordinary moral reckoning from America’s bravest rabbi. With great compassion, rigorous intellectual engagement, and an unfailing sense of justice, Brant Rosen documents his own struggles with the most urgent issue facing American Jews today. Rosen writes as he acts: with clarity, courage, and conviction.Ben Ehrenreich
In Wrestling in the Daylight, Rosen patiently challenges the ways so many in the Jewish community seek to bend Judaism’s liberationist themes to the goal of justifying Israeli repression. His intervention is a revolutionary and prophetic act.Adam Horowitz
A heroic rabbi who risked a great deal to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine and in support of justice  and peace in the region; one of the righteous voices that demonstrate the true meaning of Judaism, transcending tribal identities and committed to social justice and human love.Naomi Wolf, author, social critic, and political activist
Praise for the First Edition
Brant Rosen’s book is a journey of a rabbi who moves from believing in liberal Zionism, to questioning it to eventually abandoning it, in favor of humanist values of equality for all, irrespective of religion. Originally disturbed by Israel’s actions in Lebanon in 1982 and later Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza in December 2008, Rosen begins to question Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians. In his personal journey, Rosen gently tries to bring readers of his blog and members of his congregation to view Israel and Zionism from the standpoint of its victims, prodding and pushing his readers to abandon the oft-repeated excuses for Israel but to question whether Zionism benefits anyone.
Rosen wrestles openly, ‘in the daylight’ with his deepest moral dilemma: reconciling the classic Zionist narrative that has informed him his entire life with Israel’s inexcusable treatment of the Palestinians (and the liberal Zionism often used to rationalize it). We accompany him on his journey. The result is an eye-opening, much-needed contribution to the discourse surrounding Zionism in the American Jewish community. A critical work.
Rabbi Brant claims that he only speaks for himself, but in fact he speaks for an increasing number of Jews of all shades of belief and practice, from orthodox to atheist, who view the Israeli dispossession and domination of the Palestinians to be the central challenge facing Israel and the Jewish people today. This collection of posts from his blog, together with comments of critics and supporters, provides a model for rational yet impassioned discourse about Israel and Palestine.
Brant Rosen is at once a courageous rabbi and the voice of a new generation of American Jews who are refusing to allow the right-wing voices of the Jewish world to define Judaism and loyalty to the Jewish people as requiring blind loyalty to the policies of the State of Israel. Wrestling in the Daylight provides us with a brilliant presentation of the evolution of his thinking from a liberal Zionist to an outspoken critic, along with the reactions of members of his Reconstructionist congregation in Evanston, Illinois, and other readers of his blog, many of whom challenge his views and push him in ways that end up deepening his universalist commitments. If you want to understand the inner struggle of American Jews about Israel, this is a must read.
It was fascinating to read Brant’s book and see in how many ways the process of breaking ranks and overcoming your tribal identity is so similar, whether you are an officer in ‘the most moral army in the world’ or a rabbi in Chicago. I would give this book as a gift to many Jewish Americans, rabbis and others who, despite their doubts, have chosen to carry on being ‘good soldiers’ in the service of the Israeli occupation.
Thanks be to God that Rabbi Rosen decided to join the hardest wrestle of our day, the one with our Jewish and our Palestinian ‘Others’. The one, once more, that really is with God. May the Rabbi’s wrestle, like the ancient one of God with Jacob, remind us that wrestling God can be a lot like making love—even, or especially, with those we thought our enemies.

Wrestling in the Daylight:
A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity, 2nd Ed.
is shipping now. Paperback $19.95.

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304 pages, 6″ X 9″
Published May 2017
ISBN 9781682570654

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