At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden by Yossi K. Halevi
A Jew's Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land

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Synopsis

Yossi Klein Halevi's first book, Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist, a remarkable coming-of-age story, was lauded by the New York Times as being "of burning importance ... a drama central to the very soul of Jewish life." Now, in At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden, Haleví describes his unprecedented and extraordinary spiritual journey to discover, as a religious Israeli Jew, a common spiritual language with his Christian and Muslim neighbors in the Holy Land.

While religion has fueled the violent conflict plaguing the Middle East, Halevi wondered whether it could be a source of unity as well. To find the answer, he began a two-year exploration of the devotional life of Christianity and Islam. He followed their holiday cycles, befriended Christian monastics and Islamic mystics, and joined them in prayer in monasteries and mosques -- searching for wisdom and holiness in places that are usually off-limits to outsiders of other faiths.

In this gripping work, Halevi candidly reveals how he fought to resolve his own fears and anger as a Jew and came to relate to Christians and Muslims as fellow spiritual seekers. He chronicles the difficulty of overcoming obstacles -- theological, political, historical, and psychological -- that separate believers of the three monotheistic faiths. And he introduces a dynamic range of fascinating individuals attempting to reconcile the dichotomous heart of this sacred place -- a struggle central to Israel, but which resonates for us all.

Written in lyrical prose, Halevi takes his search for God into the heart of the Middle Eastern conflict. He insists on a spirituality that isn't escapist but instead confronts the wounds of history. The result is a book startlingly original and bold, one that embraces and transcends the categories of politics and faith.

 

About Yossi K. Halevi

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Halevi is the Israel correspondent for the New Republic, senior writer for the Jerusalem Report, and a regular columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
 
Published September 4, 2001 by William Morrow. 336 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Religion & Spirituality, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden

Publishers Weekly

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Since he sought out the "best representatives" of each religion, isolated examples who do not speak for the majority of their co-religionists, Halevi's effort remains an experiment in "testing the border crossing between faiths."

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Spirituality & Practice

The author, who describes himself as a religious Jew and a religious pluralist, writes: "For me, the test of whether a religion is true is its capacity to turn ordinary people into decent believers and extraordinary people into saints, whose presence affirms the reality of God."

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