Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Took My Own Advice

I had posted a snippet (here) of a new book, "M'kimi", by Noah Yaron-Dayan. It is written by a 'returnee' to Judaism, now a Braslavar, living in Ramat Bet Shemesh B (yeah, where all the violence was last month over those modesty signs).

So, uncharacteristically, I took my own advice and I am now reading the book.

It's good. Very good.

If you read Hebrew, get it.

And for all those who don't know what I am talking about, well, where do we start?

Step One:-

...Noa Yaron-Dayan, was once a popular and successful local media star. In her debut novel, she uses her life story as the base for this fictional account of a sharp-tongued, hip television presenter who finds herself being attracted to the religious way of life. The protagonist, Alma, disconnects from her party life, from Tel Aviv, from the media world and even from her family. The transition to her new life is not a smooth one - she examines her doubts and weighs her choices every single day...

Step Two:-

...It took me a while to put aside the way in which "Mekimi," the debut novel of Noa Yaron-Dayan, imagines me, the secular reader, and to write about the book as though I wasn't one of its subjects. Because before even opening the book, while reading the cover text provided by the publisher, I found myself, the secular Israeli woman, labeled as someone who is probably concerned with "success," "debauchery" and "wild pleasures." But here, perhaps, we need to go back to the plot - not my own plot, but that of Alma, the heroine...

...Alma and her secular partner, described as a student "at the most prestigious film school in Jerusalem," inadvertently find themselves attending the religious revival classes given by a follower of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. This near-accidental encounter becomes a process of discovery that intensifies as the book unfolds - the discovery of a brand-new spiritual world, through which and for which the everyday becomes transcendent and meaningful.

This encounter is primarily of the New Age variety, the kind that allows a person to uncover his or her own innermost secrets. There must be something about this transition, this discovery of the new self, that is entirely filling, intoxicating, empowering. Much of the book is devoted to trying to explain how it feels. But at the same time, trying to describe the experience is apparently also frustrating. And the frustration grows, not only because it is so difficult to disclose what lies in the very depths of the soul, but especially because of the audience for whom Noa Yaron-Dayan is writing: one that, as she remembers it, regards such experiences as completely foreign, and perhaps even considers them ridiculous; an audience for whom she, by virtue of that experience, becomes an "other."...

And if you comprehend spoken Hebrew, watch this video.

And if you read Hebrew, she has set up a web site.

I hope she is engaged in having it translated into English and other languages.




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