Jews and Words (Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization)

Jews and Words - Amos Oz, Fania Oz-Salzberger According to Jewish tradition, creation begins with words, as God speaks the universe into being in the first chapter of Genesis. In their book Jews and Words, novelist and essayist Amos Oz and his daughter, historian Fania Oz-Salzburger, assert that it is words that form the true chain linking Jews through the ages and around the world – a “textline” rather than a bloodline.

In four chapters composed of loosely linked musings about continuity of tradition, women (in which the Orthodox rejection of women’s voices – literal and metaphorical - is decisively refuted), the Jewish relationship with time, and the pull of community versus individuality, the storyteller and the scholar range far and wide through Jewish history and culture. They take the reader from the Bible through the shtetl to modern Israeli life, with glimpses along the way of God studying Talmud (commentary on the laws of the red heifer, if you must know), a Jewish grandmother kvetching at the Almighty on the beach, and Eliezer ben-Yehuda, father of modern Hebrew, speaking it to his children. Throughout, they share their intoxication with language and their Jewish heritage as well as their love and respect for one another, even when they disagree, as father and daughter occasionally must.