IDO AHARONI: AMBASSADOR IDO AHARONI IS A PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AT NEW YORK UNIVERSITY AND FOUNDER OF THE BRAND ISRAEL PROGRAM. HE SERVED AS ISRAEL'S CONSUL GENERAL IN NEW YORK FROM 2010 TO 2016.
Theodor Herzl is one of the most important Jews of our time. Many books have been published about this visionary of the Jewish state, but none is as deep and concise as Elon's account. Central to reading this important book is the omnipresent question: If Herzl had lived today, what would he think of his creation? With his universalist view of the world, he probably would be condemned by most members of the Knesset for not being "Zionist" enough. Elon's text is more relevant than ever, especially now that Israel is retreating into an ethnocentric form of Zionism, and many of its supporters and well-wishers take its existence for granted.
Ben-Gurion: A Biography
I chose Bar-Zohar's comprehensive three-part biography because of its wide historical perspective and heavy reliance on Ben-Gurion's own detailed record of his long political practice. Israel's former president and one of the people closest to Ben-Gurion, Yitzchak Navon, once said that while many had greatly contributed to Israel's independence, it could be safely stated that without Ben-Gurion's dedication, meticulous planning, focus and zeal, there would not be an independent Israel today.
Judaism and the Origins of Christianity
Flusser, who died in 2000, authored one of the most important and comprehensive books about the early roots of Christianity. As a devout Jew who mastered no fewer than 26 languages (!), he was a professor of Early Christianity and Judaism of the Second Temple Period at Hebrew University and published his monumental work in 1988. Flusser's exploration of Christianity and Jesus led him to conclude that Jesus "comfortably lived as a Jew who was largely misunderstood by his contemporaries." Understanding Flusser's work is critical to every Jew who would like to envision and design a better Judeo-Christian future.
The Pity of It All: A Portrait of Jews in Germany, 1743-1933
One cannot avoid the temptation of comparing the Jews in Germany on the eve of World War II with current Jewish life in some of the most prominent countries in the world, such as the United States, England, Canada, France, Australia and Brazil. Elon, who died in 2009, was a gifted storyteller, skillfully weaving history through personal stories of some of the heroes and icons of the German-Jewish narrative. A must-read book.
Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism
As an Israeli diplomat who has spent his entire career in the United States, I can say that Ravitzky's popular book greatly contributed to my understanding of Jewish life as well as its theological evolution. Ravitzky is professor emeritus of Jewish thought at Hebrew University, and this book, first published in 1993, is still essential to understanding the complexity of Jewish life in Israel. The book provides an invaluable overview of the role messianic views play in shaping Jewish history and modern Israel, from its domestic political processes to the evolution of Orthodox theology.