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Far from Zion: In Search of a Global Jewish…
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Far from Zion: In Search of a Global Jewish Community

by Charles London

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Very interesting book about the author, Charles London, who travels around the world learning about Judaism in different countries and aspiring to connect with his own spirituality. Well-written and worth reading. ( )
  barb302 | Aug 23, 2010 |
"Far from Zion" is more of a travelogue with insight than a straight-out story telling or novel. The author is a non-practicing Jew from Baltimore (who happens to be gay) who discovered that his grandmother was born in an Yiddish speaking community in ...Virginia?
That community has dissolved but Mr. London started his own personal search of what it means to be a Jew in the Diaspora. His travels take him to visit Jewish communities in Burma, Arkansas, New Orleans, Bosnia, Uganda, Iran, Cuba and finally Israel.

The Jewish communities he encounters are fascinating and probably deserve a book by their own right. From the community in Bosnia who is there to help all, to the one in Cuba where many join just for the material benefits. There are fascinating descriptions of communities which come together through struggle and hardship, only to build a better place for themselves and their neighbors.

Along the way Mr. London's inner struggle of his religious identity, traditions and his connection to Zion is a constant subtext in these stories. The author makes some personal and observational insights - some illuminating and some superficial as well as displaying a range of emotions towards Zionism - from understanding to hostility.

I always said that one's moral compass is in direct relationship with their distance from the problem. At one point Mr. London proves me right.

I found this book to very interesting, not so much from a historical angle but from the personal and intimate journey of discovery that the author makes along the way. ( )
  ZoharLaor | Dec 30, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061561061, Hardcover)

Raised in a nonreligious Jewish family, Charles London knew his heritage but had no strong desire to experience it personally. Then in the summer of 2004, while doing relief work in Bosnia, he stumbled upon a remarkable community—where Jews worked alongside Muslims and Christians to rebuild a city ravaged by war. This encounter gave him the idea for a journey that would take him around the world and back to his roots.

Far from Zion is the story of Jews in far-flung, often surprising places. Despite efforts by Israel to bring these scattered people home to Zion, they have chosen to remain in the lands of their birth: a shopkeeper selling Jewish trinkets in Iran, a caretaker keeping watch over an all-but-forgotten synagogue in Rangoon, revelers at a Hanukkah celebration in an Arkansas bowling alley, a Cuban engineering professor, proud of his Jewish heritage and prouder still of his Communist ideals. It is through their stories and many others that London examines his own identity, as he, too, struggles to come to terms with his connection to Zion.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:18 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Raised in a nonreligious Jewish family, London knew his heritage but had no strong desire to experience it personally. But in the summer of 2004, while doing relief work with children in Bosnia, he stumbled upon a community where Jews worked alongside Muslims and Christians to rebuild a city ravaged by war. London liked this idea of a humanitarian Judaism, and this encounter gave him the idea for a journey around the world and back to his roots. From a shopkeeper selling Jewish trinkets in Iran, to a Hanukkah celebration in an Arkansas bowling alley; from Rangoon, where a chain-smoking caretaker watches over an all-but-forgotten synagogue, to an engineer in Cuba proud of his Jewish heritage, yet even prouder of his Communist ideals, pockets of the Diaspora endure. Their decision to stay put offers hope that peace may lie not in congregating behind borders but in the promise of a global community of neighbors.--From publisher description.… (more)

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