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Welcome to Heavenly Heights
by Risa Miller

Category: Fiction / General
250 pages; ISBN: 0312301804

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner

Review

To Orthodox Jews, Israel is more than just Moses’ Promised Land as it is the soul’s home. Living anywhere else is exile regardless of assimilation, equal treatment or standard of living. Though a second or third generation American Jewish family may desire relocation to the Land of Israel, not many will accept the sacrifice especially moving to the dangerous West Bank.

Though she worries about the impact of acclimation especially on her young daughter to a land where the family’s Camry could be wired to explode, Tova and her family move to Heavenly Heights, a small community on the West Bank. She and most of her neighbors in the apartment building attend a synagogue filled with soldiers leaving weapons alongside prayer books. Though containing doubts as strong as that which kept Moses out of the Promised Land and missing suburban America, Tova and the other residents try to follow the Mitzvahs and do the right thing in a world that at times feels like hell.

This is a tremendous look at what motivates a Western Jew to give up a comfortable safe lifestyle to voluntarily enter a place where violence is as common as falafel and potential forced relocation hangs over the yarmulkes. The insightful ensemble story line focuses on one year in the lives of several people as they try to behave like a “proper” Jew in a cantankerous spot in which the psychological land mines seem overwhelming. Though vividly descriptive and well written, the plot lacks the other argument that these Jewish West Bank communities enrage Arab neighbors who see them as reminders of an occupation force.

Harriet Klausner

 

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