The Jewish War

Tova Reich, Author Pantheon Books $22 (269p) ISBN 978-0-679-43987-5
This is an outrageously funny, wickedly irreverent, deadly serious satire on religious extremism. Reich follows messianic, opportunistic, polygamous Jerry Goldberg in his metamorphosis from Bronx social worker and Catskills camp counselor into Yehudi HaGoel, terrorist leader of a band of American Jewish zealots who establish a short-lived secessionist kingdom on Israel's West Bank. Joining Jerry/Yehudi in this doomed quest are his three wives (a Barnard-educated English literature scholar, a mail-order swindler and a conflicted divorcee); Jerry's trusted comrade, Herbie Levy (Hoshea HaLevi) of Brooklyn; and fellow Uzi-toting fanatics willing to die for their cause. Swinging from broad farce to tragic confrontation, Reich (Mara; Master of the Return) peoples her canvas with assorted ideologues, among them Chuck Buck, fast-talking evangelical preacher who joins forces with Yehudi to further his goal of building a Christian theme park on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. Meanwhile, Buck's sister Pam kidnaps boys to swell the ranks of The Messiah-Waiters, an ultraorthodox, anti-Zionist movement, and is romantically pursued by an old Arab sheikh, Abu Salman, who's obeying a vision to marry her in order to produce a child. Reich writes with chutzpah, wild humor and real insight in this probing exploration of the cult mentality and messianic nationalism. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/03/1995
Release date: 07/01/1995
Paperback - 269 pages - 978-0-8156-0452-5
Open Ebook - 162 pages - 978-0-307-82773-9
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