[ISBN: 978-1-935982-22-7; 293pp; $21 in USA] In 2006, Rabbi Brant Rosen, who serves a Jewish Reconstructionist congregation in Evanston, Illinois, launched a blog called Shalom Rav, in which he explored a broad range of social-justice issues. The focus of his writing—and his activism—changed dramatically in December 2008, when Israel launched a wide, 23-day military attack against Gaza, causing him to deeply question his lifelong liberal Zionism. Unlike the biblical Jacob, who wrestled in the dark of night at a crucial turning point in his life, Rabbi Rosen chose to make his struggle public: to wrestle in the daylight. Over the two years that followed, Shalom Rav became a public and always highly readable record of his journey from liberal Zionist to active and visionary Palestinian solidarity activist. Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity is Rosen’s self-curated compilation of these blog posts.
But Rabbi Rosen has not struggled alone. As he began to question some of his own most longheld beliefs, many of his congregants and other readers, Jewish and non-Jewish, were drawn to the depth of his questioning and came along for the journey. Others disagreed passionately with his lines of argument, but stayed to read, debate, and participate. Wrestling in the Daylight includes many of the discussions that took place on his blog’s comment boards. Itthusprovides readers with a privileged window not only into the grace-filled, compassionate, and sometimes anguished reasoning of one rabbi, but also into the whole, complex web of discussions that have arisen within and beyond the American Jewish community over the ever-thorny Palestine/Israel question. Readers of Wrestling in the Daylight will find themselves drawn deep inside debatesover such issues as:
In his Preface, Rabbi Rosen writes, “I’ve come to believe that too many of us have been wrestling in the dark on this issue for far too long. I believe we simply must find a way to widen the limits of public discourse on Israel/Palestine, no matter how painful the prospect. It is my fervent hope that the conversations presented here might represent, in their small way, a step toward the light of day.”
Both the content of the main blog posts in Wrestling in the Daylight and the generosity with which Rosen includes—and seriously engages with—the views of his harshest critics show us an admirable spiritual leader at work. In many different ways, this book can serve as a valuable resource for all those within or beyond the Jewish community, who yearn to hold open and honest discussions on Israel and Palestine.
Posted by Marty Heyman on 27th Sep 2012
Brant Rosen is clearly torn between years of belief and training and his reaction to the news from Israel. His blog posts are well written and, as a whole, tell the story of his decision to support the Palestinian plea for a resolution of the ongoing conflict between Israeli Occupation Forces and Settlers (supported by the Israeli Government at the highest levels) and the occupied Palestinians. Rabbi Rosen finds that he has no choice either as a Jew or as a caring citizen but to join the Palestinians in Solidarity.
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