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My favorite activity in Sunday School was when our teacher would hand out construction paper and crayons and ask us to illustrate scenes from the Bible. My little sister and I spent hours trading paper colors and trying our hands at depicting famous moments: Moses and the burning bush, Noah and his animals, Mary Magdalene in an empty tomb, and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Moses always had a big nose, hairy eyebrows, and a thorny wreath around his head — I still do not know where we got this idea — and Adam and Eve looked a lot like our Ken and Barbie dolls, with shapely bodies that in no way resembled actual human bodies. Every time we colored scenes like these from the Bible, my sister and I bonded over that construction paper, inventing and imagining our own ways into the stories we heard every Sunday while our mom sang in the choir and our dad sat in the audience down the hall in the sanctuary. And after every Sunday school, we proudly pinned our masterpieces to the refrigerator, where they’d sit, lopsided under the magnet, until the next week, when we could pin up a new one.

This was how I learned the stories of the Bible. It was also how I came to understand the land of Israel. For most of my life, this tiny sliver in the Middle East has always been a menagerie of scenes rendered with crayon onto brightly colored construction paper. I preferred this world of crayon and paper, where I could take an ancient story and make it my own, one that usually featured female characters with big blue eyes, straight-up eyelashes, and bow-shaped lips. I was pretty shy, the girl always buried in her coloring books, and I loved being the creator of my characters’ destinies. Sometimes, after Sunday school let out, I’d imagine a different reality for the women, Eve on a horse, riding out of Eden, her hair flowing in the wind; Mary Magdalene as a mermaid princess reigning over the Dead Sea. In this world of ideas, I could make the women independent, adventurous; I could do whatever I wanted with them. More… “When in Jerusalem”

Kristin Winet is a writing professor at Rollins College and an award-winning travel writer. Her work, which is primarily journalistic, has recently appeared in publications like The Smart SetAtlas Obscura, and Roads and Kingdomsand syndicated on i09, Kotakuand JezebelShe is also a contributor and editor for Panorama: Journal of Intelligent Travela literary travel magazine, and is at work on her first book, a memoir about what really happens on press trips. Say hello at @kristinwinet.

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Israel, the ur-Homeland, is also a place of exile. When God comes to Abraham, and tells him to make a home in Canaan, the first thing Abraham must do is leave. Abraham packs up his stuff, rallies his family, and abandons his home in Mesopotamia for some “strange country” of promise. When God comes to Abraham, and says, “I will show you a home,” God does not say “Stay,” but “Go.” “Go for yourself,” says God to Abraham, “away from your land, to the land that I will show you.” And right away, Home begins with a departure. Home is a place that is not here but elsewhere, not now but when, not the land seen but the land as-yet-to-be seen. Abraham would eventually reach the land of Israel, but from thereon Israel – Home – would forever be the place where exiles dwelled.
More… “Home Away”

Stefany Anne Golberg is a writer and multi-media artist. She has written for The Washington Post (Outlook), Lapham’s Quarterly, New England Review, and others. Stefany is currently a columnist for The Smart Set and Critic-in-Residence at Drexel University. A book of Stefany’s selected essays can be found here. She can be reached at stefanyanne@gmail.com.

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The highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Highway 1, looks like any other highway in the world. This fact alone is disconcerting. The road to Jerusalem should be special. Somewhere deep down I suppose I wanted it to be a dirt road, a cobblestone road, anything but a normal highway. I even fantasized that the ascent from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would not happen by means of a road at all. It would just happen. In reality, it is a highway. A highway filled with too many cars and bastard truck drivers probing the limits of vehicular stability and good sense.

About two thirds of the way up to Jerusalem, however, an interesting and unusual sight does present itself. It is the sight of abandoned vehicles along the side of the road. They aren’t normal vehicles, passenger cars or trucks. The vehicles are painted in the telltale green that only gets slapped on things owned by the military. You don’t get much time to inspect these military vehicles as you drive by on the highway. It is hard to guess their purpose, though it looks like they’ve been there for a while, remnants from something that happened in the first half of the 20th century.
More… “The Road to Jerusalem”

Morgan Meis has a PhD in Philosophy and is a founding member of Flux Factory, an arts collective in New York. He has written for n+1, The Believer, Harper’s Magazine, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. He won the Whiting Award in 2013. Morgan is also an editor at 3 Quarks Daily, and a winner of a Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers grant. A book of Morgan’s selected essays can be found here. He can be reached at morganmeis@gmail.com.

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On May 11, 1960, the man who had been living in Argentina under the name Ricardo Klement was coming home from his job at the Mercedes-Benz plant when he was abducted by two Israeli operatives. “What’s your name?” they asked him. “Ricardo Klement,” he answered. The next time he was asked, he offered up the name Otto Heninger, a false identity he’d used in the past. The third time, he told the truth: He was Adolf Eichmann. One of the most elusive participants in the Final Solution was finally in custody.

Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil by Hannah Arendt. 336 pages. Penguin Classics. $16.

The fact that Israel circumvented extradition law by drugging Eichmann and flying him out of the country under an assumed name meant that the trial for his war crimes —… More…

He can be very funny. Sometimes intentionally so, other times not. He once said, “I cannot recognize either the Palestinian state or the Israeli state. The Palestinians are idiots and the Israelis are idiots.” His sense of fashion is completely his own. He’ll wear a pure white suit one day and then robes and animal skins the next. His military outfits sometimes seem like an outright parody of the military, as if he may, even, be trying out for the Village People. But one can never be sure how to take Colonel Muammar Qaddafi when it comes to clothing, or anything else.

 

The laughter sticks in the throat though when one thinks of the suffering. Qaddafi has been a dictator for a long time — 42 years, ever since he led a coup against King Idris in 1969…. More…

“If you were going to be in the country another day I’d have arranged a press conference,” said the Information Minister. We were to depart the next morning — anyone not from Sudan was advised to leave by then. “After that,” an Australian minesweeper told us, “you are on your own.” Perhaps he was trying to scare me, but I had noticed that our hotel, full of drunken ex-pats only the night before, was steadily clearing out.

 

We sat side-by-side on leather couches in the VIP room of the Juba Airport, as Riek Machar, vice president of the government of South Sudan, confessed that translating Nuer poetry into English had been a dream of his. Now he was accepting a book of Nuer poetry given to him by my companion, the American poet and novelist Terese Svoboda. She had… More…

 

Say what you like about Israelis, they know how to play the game. I’m speaking of the humanity game. It’s a game with specific rules and expectations in Western civilization. Its centerpiece, the very core of the game, is self-reflection. Demonstrating your humanity (since the Enlightenment, at least, but the roots go back to the beginning) is less about doing and more about reflecting on what you’ve done. The basic formula is already there at the Delphic Oracle: Know thyself. The trick of it, the reason that the humanity game is hard to play, is that the quest for self-knowledge does not lead to clarity, but down ever deeper into the muck. Knowledge, in the Western tradition, is very much about its limits. Knowing ourselves is thus partly about knowing the infinity of an enigma.

Ari Folman’s Waltz… More…

Janna Gur’s The Book of New Israeli Food is confused about what kind of book it would like to be. It is a beautiful coffee table book with its lickable photography, silky paper, and hefty price tag. But it is also a cookbook with its imaginative food and usable recipes. Contrary to what the publisher might think, these two books are not completely compatible.

Gur obviously spent a long time researching New Israeli Food. The chapter on fish isn’t just full of recipes like Trout Casserole and North African Hot Fish Stew — it also explains the devastating effect overfishing has had on the region’s economy. The recipes are organized in a way that makes sense to her research, but less so to a reader looking for something to make for dinner. Recipes for specific holidays are broken out, which makes sense, but breaking up the salad recipes and scattering… More…