The past few months have been a struggle for me personally, for both of my countries, and for the world. As death tolls skyrocketed and we found ourselves in quarantine, I found myself increasingly searching for what to do next. Just before quarantine, I had started a new project that I had been dreaming about for several years: writing a book.
The task, the aspiration, took on new meaning as I found myself with loads of free time and little to do with it. I picked up painting as a new hobby, but I wanted to do something a bit more meaningful and productive as well.
So I looked back on my 100+ blog entries and wasn’t sure where to start. I had adventured not only in Israel, but also in almost a dozen European countries. And even within Israel, I had explored a wide variety of communities, ranging from Haredim to refugees, from LGBTs to Reform Jews – and everything in between. Where should I start?
With the options overwhelming, and not wanting to write a 500 page book, I decided to start with my explorations using the Arabic language. After all, it was one of the most unique (and one of my favorite) vantage points for exploring Israel. And one of the least expected. What was this gay Jew doing exploring Israel in Arabic – and not with the goal of covering the Arab-Israeli conflict?
As I started to write and compile in my little indoor bunker of an apartment, I started to remember the fond memories I had of exploring Israel. And felt grateful that I got to see what I saw when I did- when I still could. That I took advantage of every opportunity to see new ways of life, new forms of thinking, and ultimately meet new friends. Which is how my Israeli WhatsApp contacts include an American-Israeli tour guide married to a woodworker, a Muslim Bedouin student, a Bulgarian-Israeli immigrant, and an Orthodox gay guy among others.
This book, more than anything else, is about these kind of one-on-one personal experiences. That I happened to make because I spoke Arabic in a country where four different religious communities speak it.
It’s about connection and it’s about making peace – not through big agreements, but through individual friendships and conversations that help you cross cultural boundaries and build a bit of hope in places that really need it. Including your own heart.
I encourage you to join me on this journey and read “More Than Just Hummus: A Gay Jew Discovers Israel in Arabic”. It’s available on Amazon.com – Kindle and black-and-white interior paperback and color interior paperback.
When we can’t leave our homes to travel where we want, join me on this adventure from the comfort of your living room.
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