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This Narrow Space: A Pediatric Oncologist, His Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Patients, and a Hospital in Jerusalem

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  44 reviews
A memoir both bittersweet and inspiring by an American pediatric oncologist who spent seven years in Jerusalem treating children--Israeli Jews, Muslims, and Christians, and Palestinian Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza--who had all been diagnosed with cancer.

In 2007, Elisha Waldman, a New York-based doctor in his mid-thirties, was offered his dream job: attending physician
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published September 1st 2017 by Schocken Books Inc
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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 ·  175 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Start your review of This Narrow Space: A Pediatric Oncologist, His Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Patients, and a Hospital in Jerusalem
I never managed to come up with a proper review for this amazing, heartrending and extremely disturbing book but I want to try and clear my 'currently reading' by the end of the year. The best review I read, and many on GR are very good, is this one by a Vine reader on Amazon. I'm going to quote it in full here, in spoilers.

(view spoiler)
Elyse  Walters
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book changed me!!!
... about cancer,
treatments, chemotherapy, about religion, politics, about how any pediatric oncologist does his job day in and day out- let alone in one of the most complicated- places in the world.
This book was MUCH MUCH MUCH more than I thought I was gambling with when I bought it.
Its incredibly personal - page turning..
stories that youll never shake away!

I seriously recommend it!!!!
Beautifully, fluently, and honestly written, this is a superb memoir about a childrens cancer doctor practising in a complex, politically and religiously charged region: Jerusalem. It represents Dr. Waldmans efforts to find his place in the worldpersonally, professionally, and geographically. However, the book is also an account of what it is like to be an American immigrant to Israel (straddling two cultures and not feeling certain of ones place in either) as well as a meditation on the mystery ...more
Lisa Vegan
Wow! 5-1/2 stars!

This book is by yet another spectacular doctor writer. Hes a wonderful storyteller & writer. And hes top-notch in every way. Honest, introspective, thoughtful, smart. Unbelievably great book! Amazing! This is a gem of a book, with many gems within.

It was so hard to put down.

I hope he writes more books; I would love one specifically on his subspecialty of palliative care. There is quite a bit about palliative care in this book.

This account works as an autobiography, a
Bob H
Nov 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
A sensitive and compelling memoir by an American Jewish doctor who headed a pediatric oncology ward -- that is to say, children with cancer -- at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem for several years. His challenges are considerable, given that he is dealing with children in life-threatening illnesses, and their families; often, he tells us, they come through it -- sometimes they don't. These families are Israeli Jewish, Israeli Arab, Palestinian, from both sides of the line, and he has to deal with ...more
Joseph Sciuto
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are memoirs, and then there are memoirs. "This Narrow Space: A Pediatric Oncologist, His Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Patients, and a Hospital In Jerusalem" falls into the category "and then there are memoirs."

The author, Elisha Waldman, has written a memoir that is both sobering and rewarding as he takes us inside a Pediatric Oncologist Department at a Jewish Hospital in Jerusalem named Hadassah. Dr. Waldman, an American Jew, with strong family and religious ties to Israel relocates to
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
"This Narrow Space" is incredibly well written, honest, and compelling! While dealing with some very delicate issues, namely the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and life-threatening pediatric illness, Dr. Waldman manages to express his observations and views without voicing any obnoxious political opinions! He is idealistic, yet humble; brilliant, yet ever eager to seek and to learn. He speaks of everyone with respect. I went into this book interested in the cultural and medical experiences of an ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Barbara by: Lisa
Elisha Waldman has penned an intriguing memoir related to many perspectives His intelligence, resourcefulness and empathy all shine through these pages. He is an highly educated, experienced physician/ oncologist who has chosen to devote his life to the care and treatment of children with life- threatening diseases. His efforts were situated in the US and Israel, tending Jewish, Muslim and Christian patients.

His ties to Judaism and his apparent devotion to the religion are of interest to me,
Marisa James
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: Dr Waldman was my brothers pediatric oncologist, and I also lived in Jerusalem for several years around the same time, and became involved in trying to help a Palestinian child with cancer, who Dr Waldman also treated, so I came to this book with a history that almost guaranteed that Id fall in love with every word. It was an incredible experience to read this and get a window into what the doctor thinks and feels when treating patients and communicating with families after having ...more
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dr. Elisha Waldman writes about the struggles and barriers he faces after he moves from the U.S. to Israel to work as a Pediatric Oncologist. He spent 7 years treating children including Israeli Jews, Muslims, and Christians, Palestinian Arabs from the West Bank and Gaza.
What began as an altruistic thought/practice became bogged down by political red tape and he finds himself questioning those around him, as well as himself. Physicians, and religious leaders must read this book.
I read an
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this spellbinding book, Dr. Elisha Waldman describes the moving and unforgettable journey he took as a pediatric oncologist practicing at the world renowned Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. This American physician arranged to make his aliyah to Israel in the hopes of serving the most desperate of all patients- the children suffering from cancer from all walks of life, including Arabs, Christians and Jews. The Hadassah is a crucible of conflicting cultures, religions, languages all competing ...more
Fatima M. Nabil
This book is written by someone who identifies as an Israeli, who writes about his time in Israel....because of who I am and where I was raised, I see myself belonging to the opposite side of the conflict, but I related to him, I am also a doctor, and I too believe that medical care should be available to everyone who needs it, regardless of their identity, I also feel heartbroken by the crisis in the middle East, I also feel disgusted by the pure hate and racism against innocent people.
As a
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: health-medicine
This book brought up such a variety of feelings for me. First, there is so much sadness. Kids dying of cancer (the author works mostly with kids who do not recover) is already tragic. Put it in the context of Israel, where some of the families are Jewish and some Arab/Palestinian, and where the Palestinians are already so disadvantaged and face so many logistical hardships in getting care for their kids, and it's almost unbearably sad. The hospital staff worked on providing the same standard of ...more
Joanne Duhl
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book - certainly not what one would expect to say about a book that has the words "pediatric oncologist" in its title. Certainly the individual stories of children with incurable cancers were devastating, but the author presents the world of Hadassah Medical Center as a warm and very caring place that seeks to treat all children and families regardless of their religion or geography. And he uses his work with these children to show the challenges of working and living in ...more
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A very special book, a memoir written by Dr Elisha Waldman, pediatric oncologist, who spent some time working in Jerusalem's Hadassah hospital. His patients (children and younger adults) were Jews, Muslims, Christians, Palestinian Arabs from West Bank and Gaza all with cancers, most of them without any hope.
Not an easy read, still outstanding, excellent.
A well written book, an unusual story.
Recommended reading for non-fiction readers.
Shirley Freeman
Profound. A beautiful addition to the conversation around palliative care. While it can be discouraging to read about children with cancer and about the enduring conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Waldman's voice is one of hope in the midst of the madness.
Melissa Tevlin
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Author spent about two-thirds of the book complaining about how Israel was mean to him (for expecting him to what was expected of everyone else living in Israel). The few times he actually mentioned a patient, the book was average.
Kerry Pickens
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
This is the story of an American pediatric oncologist who makes Aliyah to Israel, and finds that the culture can be challenging. He is the son of a rabbi, and I enjoyed the relationship that he shares between his Jewish practice and his medical practice. The part that was disturbing is when religiously conservative parents refuse cancer treatment for their daughters, and prefer to let them die rather than be disfigured with surgery or chemotherapy. That's about as heartless as you can get.
Gaby Chapman
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, middle-east
American Jewish Pediatric Oncologist muses on his years in Israeli children's hospital.
Mikayla Hatch
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it
3 stars = a good book to me. I really did enjoy it. Did I love it? I loved a few parts of it. Did it inspire me? In a few ways yes. I would recommend it. I probably would have given this 4 stars if the author had explained Jewish and Muslim terms/religious objects/events/religous clothing more. Im not expecting this book to be an explanation of those religions but even just a sentence or two explaining what something, versus just dropping the term and expecting the reader to know what he is ...more
carolyn jacobs
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent and thought- provoking book

This memoir is written by a pediatric oncologist who moves to Israel to work in the Hadassah hospital. He experiences a lot of ambiguity in his relationships with patients, parents and co workers he has visited Israel but now he is a citizen. He experiences ambiguity I relating to patients, families,co workers and in adjusting to life in a different country. I rarely give 5 stars. This book deserves it!
Kathleen Birch
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Definitely a memoir and not a book with just medical stories. I havent read much about the challenges of the people living in Israel and this was eloquently written. The authors reflections on his life, the life of his patients and their families and the citizens of Israel are touching and introspective. Worth the time to read. ...more
Truong Tang
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Elisha Waldman chose a perfect poem to start the book. That alone made me finish this book in only several days considering my laziness when it comes to reading books recently. Joke aside, this is one of the best non-fiction books I have ever read.
Katrina Lorfeld
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking and hope giving at the same time.
Laura Boudreau
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book, written with warmth and honesty. Just way too short!
Laura Cobrinik
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Elisha Waldman's book, "This Narrow Space: A Pediatric Oncologist, His Jewish, Muslim and Christian Patients, and a Hospital in Jerusalem is a memoir of a Pediatric Oncologist who appears very smart, who has a duel love for both The United States and Israel. Waldman who as a child along with his family spent time in both countries. A smart pre-med graduate from Yale University, Waldman enters a Medical School in Tel Aviv and then returns to Boston's children's Hospital for a fellowship in ...more
Two distinct themes run through This Narrow Space: identity in Israel, and the ideas of palliative care. Elisha Waldman, a Jewish-American pediatric oncologist, made aliyah and became an Israeli. During his years working at Haddasah Hospital in Jerusalem he treated Muslim, Christian, Orthodox, and Reformed Jews of all varieties, and learned much from his cultural experiences. His memoir gives glimpses into these cultures, as well as providing commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian political ...more
Margaret Klein
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cki-book-group
This is a challenging, important work documenting the life at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, a world class teaching and research hospital. The author, an American Jewish, son of a rabbi, trained in Israel as a pediatric oncologist, returns to Israel, the land that he loves, as an attending physician at this amazing hospital noted for its willingness and commitment to treat Jews, Christians and Muslims.
The work of pediatric oncology is particularly difficult, forcing doctors, nurses, everyone
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book seemed made for me. Its about pediatrics, life and death, and based in Jerusalem. However, at the beginning of the book I was nonplussed. The author was so overjoyed to have made aliyah to Israel, that he almost seemed naive. It was so enthusiastic I was wary. Then the book talked about pediatric oncology and some of his patients. This is pretty grim stuff, unless youre in pediatrics. I was planning to give a three starred review until I hit the latter part of the book. This is where ...more
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One value of book clubs is that you end up reading books that you would otherwise pass by. I would never have read this excellent book if one of my book clubs had not selected it. It is fascinating on so many levels. The stories of his patients, their families, and the dedicated medical professionals who treat them was spellbinding. His sensitivity (and that of his team) to the medical issues, religious and cultural beliefs, and daily circumstances of his patients and their families reveal how ...more
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