House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood

Adina Hoffman, Author
Adina Hoffman, Author Steerforth Press $22 (225p) ISBN 978-1-58642-001-7
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-7679-1019-4
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-10037-4
Open Ebook - 128 pages - 978-0-385-34776-1
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-1-900850-62-9
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The author and her husband, Peter, moved to Jerusalem from the United States a decade ago, soon after she completed college, in an attempt to ""test the bonds and limits of our American home."" But unlike many of her contemporaries who write about themselves, Hoffman refreshingly ignores her inner world in favor of the geography and personalities in one neighborhood in the ancient and much fought over city of Jerusalem. It's her experiences with her neighbors--and their fascinating histories--that distinguish this expatriate's work. Some of those experiences could occur in any city, as when a neighbor who is still a virtual stranger thrusts all of her valuables on them to safeguard when she goes on a short trip. But others could only happen in Jerusalem: discussions with a fish-stand operator who describes his childhood in Morocco and his immigration to the Jewish state; an impromptu, ""bittersweet"" visit with a Palestinian family on a trip to Jordan; and a neighborhood battle with Orthodox Jews who want to cut down trees to make way for a religious school. At times, as in the latter case, Hoffman's American sensitivities may seem a bit extreme, but to her credit, she doesn't take herself too seriously. The writing in this debut book by the film critic for the Jerusalem Post is as poignant and layered as the subjects she writes about--and by detailing the ways history and culture play out in the day-to-day lives of the residents of one of the world's most contentious cities, she adds nuance and complexity to a much-studied subject. (Sept.)
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