Israel Independence Day: 65 Books for 65 Years.

Beit Maskit Jerusalem

Israel marks 65 years next week. In celebration, I am compiling a list of the 65 best books connected to Israel – a book about Israel, a story that takes place in Israel,  a book by an Israeli….fiction, non-fiction, a cookbook.  You get the idea.  You are invited to send in your best loved books. Tell us which books  impacted you, which helped you fall in love with the land or the books that made you realize how complex things can be. Or the ones you just love.

The list will be published on or about Independence Day.  Please post your  choices here and include name of book and the author.

Looking forward to seeing your choices.



Small print:  There is no guarantee that an entry will be included in the list.


27 thoughts on “Israel Independence Day: 65 Books for 65 Years.

  1. Ali A. Baratas

    Great idea!!
    I am guessing “Exodus” will by leading the list, so definitely, “The Chosen,” by Chaim Potok.

  2. Harold Bergstein

    Books that I love that connected me to Israel

    Exodus by Leon Uris
    Night by Elie Wiesel (What would have been if Jews could have fled to Israel?)
    The Revolt by Menachem Begin
    The Source by James Michener

  3. Aviva Ernst

    My choice would be Eretz Yisrael in the Parsha. Every week I see our connection to Eretz Yisrael in a different way.

  4. Jacob Richman

    The Tanach
    The Revolt by Menachem Begin
    Coming Home by Sybil Ruth Zimmerman
    To Dwell in the Palace by Tzvia Ehrlich-Yisroel
    On Bus Drivers, Dreidels and Orange Juice by Tzvia Ehrlich-Yisroel (and other books in the series)
    Moving Up An Aliyah Journal by Laura Ben-David
    Start-Up Nation by Senor and Saul Singer
    Battleground – Fact and Fantasy in Palestine by Samuel Katz
    But Seriously by Sam Orbaum z”l
    The Israeli Secret Service by Ricahrd Deacon
    90 Minutes at Entebbe by William Stevenson
    Operation Uranium Ship by Dennis Eisenberg
    To The Skies – The El Al Story by Arnold Sherman

  5. Yocheved Miriam Russo

    Several books by Ruth Gruber come to mind, especially “Israel on the Seventh Day” — a diary of her tour of Israel, north to south, in 1950. Funny, profound and historically enlightening. And “Raquela”, Gruber’s novel about an Israeli woman in the 1920’s, features the horrific massacre in Hebron, 1929. Close my eyes, and I can see the people in that book, playing it out like a film. Genius-level fiction writing.

    “Shelanu” the hilarious but still helpful and timely aliyah journal written by Maggie Rennert, who made aliyah to Beersheba in 1978. It’s a book that inspired a lot of us (including me) to make aliyah. It’s also the book that made a ‘sponja’ the first thing I wanted to see as soon as I made aliyah myself.

    “From Time Immemorial” by Joan Peters, probably the world’s most influential book on Jewish-Arab history.

    “Land of our Own” Golda Meir’s ‘oral autobiography’. Candid, gossipy tales of her life in Israel are absolutely fascinating.

    “The Israelis” Amos Elon. If any book will introduce the reader to “the Israeli” — who he is, what he thinks, and why he came to think it, this is it.

    “The Settlers”, Meyer Levin. Fiction, but accurate tales of Israel’s growing pains in the early days. Some of the scenes in this book — the literal hunger, the danger, the early (mostly failed) attempts to grow potatoes — will stick in my mind forever. What sacrifices they made so that we now live in comfort!

    You’ll probably pick “Exodus”, which is enjoyable enough but pure fiction. Two much better books on Aliyah Bet, written by men who were part of it, are “The Jews Secret Fleet” by Murray Greenfield, and “Running the Palestine Blockade” by Capt. Rudulph Patzert. Both are absolutely excellent, readable, filled with pictures and personal tales of their adventures. This era, this project, was a critical element in the establishment of the State, and at least one book telling about it should definitely be included.

    Another of my personal favorites is “Israel’s War for Peace” by Herbert Ben Adi. In the 1950’s and 60’s Ben Adi was a Jerusalem Post columnist, a fascinating character all by himself. His collection of writings from 1967 gives an insiders look at history, the stories behind the stories that made the headlines. Ben Adi is considered a major chronicler of the development of Merkerot — in fact, his amateur photographs are, in many cases, the only ones that exist.

    Another personal favorite is a little book, “Letters from Jerusalem” by Zipporah Porat, her personal stories of Jerusalem, 1948 – 50. It’s a gem, what a young woman personally saw and experienced during not only the siege, but during those turbulent years.

    Sorry — this list is too long, but I’ve spent decades reading — and loving — these kinds of books and I can’t bear to cut out a one. I could give you 65 all by myself, but these are my absolute favorites!

  6. Howard Weisband

    The Zionist Idea, by Arthur Hertzberg
    The Pledge, by Leonard Slater
    O Jerusalem, by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre
    The Battle for Jerusalem, by Abraham Rabinovich
    The Jewish State, by Yoram Hazony
    Six Days of War, by Michael Oren
    Power, Faith and Fantasy, by Michael Oren
    The Prime Ministers, by Yehuda Avner

  7. Tsipi Wexler

    From the Four Winds – Haim Sabato
    Lights from J’lem – Sara Yoheved Rigler
    For the Love of Israel and the Jewish People – Nathan Lopes Cardozo
    Pioneers in Palestine – Hanna Barnett Trager
    The Pomegranite Pendant – Dvora Waysman
    Eretz Yisrael in the Parshah – Moshe D. Lichtman

  8. Ruchama King Feuerman

    Great idea, Stuart. If it’s a book I’ve read at least twice, then I know it’s good.
    Just off the top of my head: “My Glorious Brothers,” by Howard Fast,
    “A Tale of Love & Darkness,” by Amos Oz, Sherri Mandell’s “The Blessing of a Broken Heart,”
    “Welcome to Heavenly Heights,” by Risa Miller. More will come, now that you’ve got me thinking.

  9. Goel Jasper

    One of my favorites, that not many people are familiar with, is “With Friends Like You – What Israelis Really Think About American Jews” by journalist Matti Golan. It is a surprisingly Zionistic book.

  10. Marna Becker

    I recently read The Gilboa Iris by Efrat’s own Zahava Englard. Seriously well written and interesting with important attention to detail which is important for a piece of historical fiction. It was just published recently and I LOVED it.

  11. Ben Pashkoff

    Halkin – “Letters to an American-Jewish Frind”
    Gordis – “Coming Together Coming Apart”
    Shabtai Teveth – Any of the biographies of the founding fathers (Ben-Gurion, Dayan)
    Sharon – “Warrior”
    Hertzberg – “The Zionist Idea”
    Desmond Stewart – “Herzl”
    Ahad Ha-AM
    Herzl – “Altneuland”

  12. Sheryl Abbey

    I know I’m his publicist, but I had to second (or third?) the nomination for The Prime Ministers by Yehuda Avner. The documentary based on the book premieres in LA and NY this month, and the fan mail continues to pour in…

  13. Hannah Bacharach

    “Tuvia in the Promised Land”, A historic novel, by Tzvi Fischman. If you ever wondered what happened after “Fiddler on the Roof” ended, this author continues to follow the family as they travel to Israel, (NOT America as was the original plan). In a very detailed way, he recounts the joys and sorrows they encounter in Israel around the time of WW1, weaving many historical figures into the story. (i.e. Rav Kook, Baron Rothschild). It gives one a true sense of how things were, and what one would encounter in Israel at that time.

    “Letters from Jerusalem 1947-1948”, is a compilation of Letters written by Zipporah Porat about the year she won a scholarship, and went to study at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her vivid writings truly make one feel as if they were in Jerusalem at that pivotal time in history.

    Of course “Exodus”, by Leon Uris! (Much better than the movie).

    All amazing books.

  14. Isha Esses

    Most of all the poems from Yehuda Amichai. Especially the poem Tourists. Every time I read it, it makes me happy not to be a tourist in our land! May the redemption come soon!

    Once I was sitting on the steps near the gate at David’s Citadel and I put down my two heavy baskets beside me. A group of tourists stood there around their guide, and I became their point of reference. “You see that man over there with the baskets? A little to the right of his head there’s an arch from the Roman period. A little to the right of his head.” “But he’s moving, he’s moving!” I said to myself: Redemption will come only when they are told, “Do you see that arch over there from the Roman period? It doesn’t matter, but near it, a little to the left and then down a bit, there’s a man who has just bought fruit and vegetables for his family.

  15. Gigi Strom

    פה ושם בארץ ישראל – עמוס עוז Here and There in the Land of Israel – Amos Oz
    כל השירים – יהודה עמיחי Full collection of Yehuda Amichai’s poetry
    יש ילדים זיגזג – דוד גרוסמן David Grossman (Literally “Some children are zigzag – don’t know what the official translation is)

  16. Suzi Brozman

    The ultimate, of course, is the Tanakh. Every time I open it, I am flooded with a sense of how blessed we are to have Israel back in our hands.
    And the new siddur by Nehalel–a magnificent English translation of the prayers, which a rabbi friend tells me is far more faithful to the Hebrew than most, as well as being incredibly eloquent, and all this is accompanied by a breathtakingly beautiful panorama of photographs of Israel and its people.
    my third choice is Ruth Gruber’s classes novel Raquela.

  17. Michael Gordon

    O’Jerusalem – Larry Collins & Dminique LaPoerre
    1948 – Benny Morris
    The Prime Ministers – Yehida Avner
    Israel Test – George Gilder

  18. barbara

    Katz: the Aaronsohn Saga.
    Israel would not have existed but for the work of people like Aaron Aaronsohn.



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