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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation edited by Carolyn L. Karcher features stories from forty Jews from different backgrounds, stories that trace their journey from a Zionist worldview to one that embraces an inclusive world. From the very beginning, the author makes a powerful distinction between Zionism and Judaism. While Zionism is the political ideology of Jewish nationalism, Judaism is a religion. Zionism centers on the belief in Israel as a haven where Jews can stay safe from persecution, using a political ideology that cuts them off from others while Judaism centers on a body of sacred texts, ritual practices, and ethical precepts. In these pages, Jews share their spirituality and help readers gain a deeper understanding of the differences between Judaism and Zionism, offering insight on the spiritual elements of the religion and shedding light on the radical implications of Zionism.
The book is well-edited and it features stories that are eye-openers for those who want to understand the Jewish religion and one of the most powerful threats it has encountered throughout history. The reader encounters people who are informed and who share their Jewish beliefs and experiences. Judaism is more than a religion of the Jews. Rabbi Brant Rosen redefines it in a way that is all-inclusive and that opens the doors to outsiders, including the oppressed: "If asked to refer to non-Zionist Judaism in positive terms, I would call it Diasporism. While it feels almost redundant to refer to Judaism in this way, in the age of Zionism it’s all too easy to forget that Jewish tradition was actually born and bred in the Diaspora.” The book features very insightful thoughts like this one from Rabbi Linda Holtzman: "It’s amazing how long you cannot see what is right in front of you and how long you cannot know what you don’t want to know." If you want to understand the key differences between Zionism and Judaism and the liberating power of Judaism as a religion, then read Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation.