Coming Home To Jerusalem: A Personal Journey

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9780684869520: Coming Home To Jerusalem: A Personal Journey
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Coming Home to Jerusalem, Wendy Orange's story of her six years in Israel, is a vivid look at life behind the headlines, at the individuals who make up the fascinating and tumultuous place that is the contemporary Middle East. Orange and her family settled in Jerusalem in the early 1990s, and this is the story of her homecoming, the worlds she discovered, the people behind the politics, and the deep-seated ideas obscured by divisive ideologies. Her sojourn brings her into contact with famous authors, obscure artists, Evangelical teachers, American-Israeli housewives, and citizens weary of the turbulent life Orange finds so fascinating. As a reporter for an American magazine, she travels to remote parts of Israel and into the Palestinian territories -- adventures that give her a broader picture of the age-old conflicts that inform the opinions of peaceniks and young soldiers, downtrodden refugees and elite politicians, on both sides of the cultural divide. Her portraits illuminate, with stunning immediacy, everyday lives lived in extraordinary circumstances, and she recounts her experiences with candor, wit, and a keen eye for the cultural and political undercurrents of her adopted home.

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Review:

Coming Home to Jerusalem: A Personal Journey is an intelligent, entertaining, politically astute memoir by Wendy Orange, who from 1991 to 1997 was the Mideast correspondent for Tikkun, a leading American Jewish magazine. One autumn morning in 1990 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Orange realized that she would never feel at home where she lived--a feeling that she compared to "the claustrophobic awareness that you've just married the wrong person." Several months later, she realized that she was homesick for a place she had never been before: while watching CNN reports from Jerusalem at the outbreak of the Gulf War, she was struck with an awareness that "the Israelis on the streets ... all felt familiar. They looked and dressed like me and my friends, were the same age, had the same verbal intonations as they spoke." Shortly thereafter, she visited Israel for the first time. Not long after her visit, she packed eight cardboard boxes, left her job, and took her young daughter Eliza with her to Jerusalem, for what she imagined would be forever.

The story that follows, Coming Home to Jerusalem, is a tightly plotted play in a "theatre of incongruous, gruff, sexy, close-minded, religious, secular, cruel, funny, and excitable characters." Along the way, Orange offers plenty of insight on the political and religious conflicts that dominated Jerusalem's life during her time there. But the real strength of this book is its sprawling constellation of character studies of Holocaust survivors, famous writers, failed artists, politically elite people, and a cab driver with whom Orange falls in love. Coming Home to Jerusalem is essentially a travelogue, and it does what good travel writing should--it makes you want to go. --Michael Joseph Gross

About the Author:

Wendy Orange was a clinical psychologist in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the director of a master's program in psychology in Burlington, Vermont. She made her first visit to Jerusalem, where she became a journalist, in 1991. She currently lives in New York City with her family.

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