Israel for Perplexed Beginners
Gefen Publishing House
Paperback, 104 pages
Reviewed by Mike Porter
The title led me to expect another type of book, so I was perplexed after I had read a few pages. ‘Isn't this supposed to be funny, I thought. The light-hearted illustrations done by Avi Katz seemed to support my thinking.
I started reading the book to Marianne Ravor, to whom I read every week. Marianne, who recently turned 98 and whose vision is seriously impaired, displays an immense curiosity about the world around her and its vagaries. She listened quietly while I read some of the many short chapters – which cover a tremendous variety of subjects – and eventually summed up: “I would say it’s a serious book with a light touch: it reveals positive and negative aspects of Israel, but in a good-humored way.
We decided to continue reading the book every week, and in the end I had to agree with her – but not about everything. The many aspects dealing with Israelis and life in Israel reflect, at the very least, a serious amount of “homework” done about the country and the peoplefrom the Bible to elections (“After the elections you realize that you should have voted for the party that promised the least so as to be the least disappointed”); from Ben-Gurion Airport to retirement (“Bituach Leumi expects you to take comfort in the fact that old age doesn't last .. long, and you have to go through it only once”).
Much of the humor reflects the peculiarities of the Israeli. And while a great deal of Israeli life is covered, I still felt that something was missing: for instance, a reference to the kibbutz and the people on it who played such an essential part in Israel's growth in the early years.
Angelo Colorni is a marine biologist and a senior scientist at the Research Center for Mariculture in Eilat. I see that this is the third book in a "perplexed" series about Israel that he has written.
Hmm! Perhaps there’s something in one of them about the kibbutz.
Confused? Puzzled? I am too
*This title may be a deliberate humorous one based on the wellknown title of Rambam’s Guide for the Perplexed. But I doubt it. Not exactly a guide for the perplexed, more a perplexing guide for the perplexed... MP