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At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  103 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Yossi Klein Halevi's first book, Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist, a remarkable coming-of-age story, was lauded by the New York Times as being "of burning importance ... a drama central to the very soul of Jewish life." Now, in At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden, Haleví describes his unprecedented and extraordinary spiritual journey to discover, as a religious Israeli Jew, ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 4th 2001 by William Morrow (first published September 1st 2001)
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Nov 12, 2013 Edward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Near the beginning of this book, Halevi talks about the “idolatry of separation,” the emphasis upon how the three monotheistic faiths that sprung out of the middle east, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, distinguish themselves from one another. Each claims Abraham as their spiritual father, but there the differences begin.

Halevi is not concerned with theological discussions of these differences. He does deal with the history of the area – it’s unavoidable in talking about the state of Israel an
Real Supergirl
Jun 11, 2007 Real Supergirl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, jewish
This is a brilliant, fascinating book about an Israeli, observantly Jewish journalist's spiritual journey. he spends a year observing the holidays and daily rituals with various religious Muslims (primarily Sufi) and Christians. He does all this without ever losing or questioning his Jewish faith - what he is searching for is the interfaith common language and belief structure for all three religions. And he finds it - even if plenty of fundamentalist Muslims, Christians, and Jews would deny it ...more
Sep 27, 2012 Devin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite non-fiction books. In the intro, upon re-reading the book recently, I came across a passage that I really connected with. He said that he's a religious pluralist. That he believes that all the religions of the world are really just one, its just that they interpret things differently. It is exactly how I feel. I always called myself a spiritualist, that I was more interested in spirituality than religion. But I agree, I think that people approach spirituality different ...more
Jun 21, 2015 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful book about a man trying to learn if the beauty of religion can overcome the ugliness of religion. A Jewish man in Israel, with fear and hesitation, tries to experience the holiness of Islam and Christianity, and it brought me to tears when he did. I can't believe this book didn't win any or all the prestigious prizes. Yes, essentially he is the oppressor in Israel, so I can see cynics feel his arrogance, but he is an ordinary man trying to find a way out of the tragedy that is playin ...more
Feb 11, 2015 Rachael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written before the second intifada and before 9/11, this book should seem dated. I found his journey and experiences still quite relevant, both from a religious and political perspective. As an Orthodox Jewish Israeli raised in Brooklyn by Holocaust survivors, he certainly has an interesting background. His journey to find solidarity with Muslims and Christians in prayer and worship is fascinating. His ambitious mission could come across as naive Kumbaya-type exploration, but his deeply held rel ...more
Mar 28, 2015 Ronen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: israel, religion
Hopeful against the odds, and very well written.

HaLevi isn't a starry-eyed mystic which would seem to be the main risk in a book of this sort. He manages to evoke hope and convey a seemingly Messianic vision while keeping his feet on the ground, not a simple feat.

As said by one of the characters in the book, a colorful Sufi Sheikh: "There are enough politicians in the land of the prophets. But where are the prophets in the land of the prophets?"
Dec 28, 2014 Elerzlikespi(e) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People Interested in Monotheism
Recommended to Elerzlikespi(e) by: Parents
An amazing look into the worlds of Christianity and Islam through both a Jewish and overall monotheistic religious lense. Though, as an Orthodox Jew, I don't necessarily agree with all of HaLevi's forays into Christianity and Islam, I think his explorations of the other two religions that hold the Land of Israel as holy are fascinating. Definitely worth a read!
Laura Engelken
Dec 28, 2011 Laura Engelken rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book - clearly structured, well-written, insightful and inspirational. Halevi did an excellent job describing the complex social, religious and political realities of the Holy Land - all through the narrative of his own spiritual search.

Also, Halevi's perspectives as an American religious Jew, child of Holocaust survivors, and now Israeli citizen - helped me get a sense of the deep distrust many Jews have of Christians and Christianity. There were a number of vignettes whic
Jan 29, 2012 Lynne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful account of one orthodox Jewish person's attempt to engage with the spiritualities of Islam and Christianity in the context of Israel/Palestine. It is beautifully written, very moving and ultimately hopeful about the human possibilities of overcoming the demonization of the Other. There is still no formally agreed peace process for the afea but the kind of meetings Halevi describes have a symbolic power for what is possible.
Sharon Rosenberg-Scholl
This was a beautiful book. The author's descriptions of the people he meets and places he goes and his honest reflection and expressions of his feelings and fears was just captivating. If he and the people he befriends in this book were in power, we could have peace. Insha'Allah - Keyn Hehi Ratzon.
Daughters Of Abraham
Jewish Israeli journalist spends time getting to know Christians and worshipping with Muslims. Sections are political in regard to Israel-Palestine.
Jenny Larsen
An interesting book to read before Easter and to begin to learn about Israel.
John Hoag
Chapter on Armenia is truly outstanding.
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