The Tenth Prayer tells the story of Israel in its early days. The book follows half a dozen people from the 1930s through 1960 and focuses on one theme: "Who is a Jew?" That question, which has divided Israel since independence, is raised by a character saying "I want to be a Jew, a Jewish Jew from Palestine." It is raised again by a follower of the Irgun Zvai Leumi who uses "Hebrew" as a nationality. And it is raised again when a whole village of Italian Catholics converts to Judaism during the war and must fight for acceptance as Jews. Finally, it is raised in the death of a baby of an Israeli Jew and an American Baptist, a baby that cannot be buried under Israeli law.Also touched on are civil rights, freedom of the press, the Law of Return, the Eichmann case, and the little Eichmann case (a Zionist leader accused of helping the Germans), which leads to unpunished murder. The novel brings the story only to 1960, but it portrays the new country without the adulation of previous English-language fiction, as might be imagined since the main character is the woman who broadcast as the Voice of Fighting Zion, broadcasting station of the Irgun. Other characters include a kibbutz woman who must leave her settlement because her husband voted for the wrong party, an assimilated American Jew who was active in Peter Bergson’s American League for a Free Palestine.One character spends time in a Lebanese concentration camp where this author was the first American hostage in Lebanon.
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Published July 21, 2000
History, Literature & Fiction.