Author: Elazar Stern
Gefen Publishing House. 2012. 251 pages. $18 – Paperback in English.
Available from Amazon, Kindle, Gefen.
Reviewed by Pnina Moed Kass
I read this book (originally written in Hebrew and published by Yediot Aharonot) on a Shabbat, and if ever a book suited the contemplative mood of a rainy wintry Shabbat, this is it. Anyone who cares about the moral fiber of Israel, anyone who worries about our struggle to be democratic but true to our heritage, anyone who questions the direction we are taking, must read this book.
Seen through the eyes of a general who served for more than 30 years in the Israel Defense Forces, the memoir combines the personal pain of battle, Stern’s continuing confrontation with the religious and the anti-religious, and his attempt to change the army educational framework to help newcomers and also those “sabras” who are ignorant of their own history. He is painfully honest about the emotional distress he encountered comforting those whose loved ones had died, and those families who had violently resented his intrusion. Stern has steadfastly refused to back down from decisions that no other general, in any other army, has ever had to make. This is not only one man’s story; it is the story of the ethical dilemmas all Israelis have faced in the decades since the Six Day War.
If you read no other book about the weighty decisions that face us, if you read no other book about Israel today – read this book.
Pnina Moed Kass is the author of children’s books (BERALE series/Hebrew/Keter) and of the prizewinning novel, REAL TIME (English / Carion-Houghton Mifflin). www.pninamoedkass.com