Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return
The razor-sharp edge of religious beliefs and national conflict, of shadowy projections and existential anxiety, that characterize Israel and its neighbors, gives rise to a particular blend of archetypal fate and personal destiny, of doubt and conviction, despair and commitment, of collective identity and personal choice. However, I do believe that the essence of my wonderings reach beyond the shores of the eastern Mediterranean or Jewish tradition. I believe the tension between a sense of exile and return, belongingness and estrangement, are universal aspects, certainly in our post-modern world.
While Israeli reality provides the external context, the story serves, as well, as a metaphor for the exile and return of the soul, which necessarily is a journey through shadowy valleys.
"Requiem returns us to an eternal theme, a dialogue with Soul, and we know quite well what happens when one dialogues with Soul-we change, consciousness is enlarged, the impossible becomes possible and we no longer are compelled to blindly follow in the deathly path of our forefathers."
"Requiem is a fictitious account of a scenario played out in the mind of many Israelis, pertaining to existential reflections and apocalyptic fears, but then, as well, the hope and commitment that arise from the abyss of trepidation."
"While set in Israel sometime in the present, it is a story that reaches into the timelessness of history, weaving discussions with Heine and Kafka into a tale of universal implications."
Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return, a novella by Erel Shalit
il piccolo editions (January 1, 2010)
ISBN 978-1-926715-03-2, 106 pp
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Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return
by Erel Shalit
5.0 out of 5 stars Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine: Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, May 13, 2011
Grady Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States)
This review is from: Requiem: A Tale of Exile & Return (Paperback)
The title of this meditative book, REQUIEM: A Tale of Exile and Return', seems inappropriate when the reader begins Erel Shalit's story: if these are the thought patterns that are seething through the mind of our narrator Professor Eliezer Shimeoni as he prepares a lecture on the fate of Israel and the fate of the Jews, why then open with a 'Christian' mass for the dead? But then we are reminded that this is yet another work by the author of 'Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path', and his life's work is not only a Jungian Pyschoanalyst in Ra'anana, Israel but he is also a man consumed with the great literature and the important writers of the world.
He begins this story simply enough as Professor Shimeoni reflects on the history of the Jews post WW II, the formation of the independent home state of Israel and then the gradual failure of that land to maintain. 'That very moment he understood why the passionate longing for home had anchored in the Jewish soul, and why the sense of the soul's exile wandered like a shadow behind every Jew.' He quotes the words of Chaim Potok 'To be a Jew in this century is to understand fully the possibility of the end of mankind, while at the same time believing with certain faith that we will survive.' Shimeoni has faith that the Jews will survive, given the history of the suffering of the Pogrom. 'His belief was that the Jews thrived at the edge of pathology - their individual pathology, but also their collective pathology as a people.
'Given his theme for investigation Shimeoni examines an imagined end of Israel and then pastes together his responses to that concept with post-modern thinking. 'He recalled the words of Ben-Gurion, that in Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles. "Was Israel not the miraculous realization and the triumph of the spirit of life, forever hovering over the primordial abyss?" he said in a loud and clear voice, adjusting the microphone. As the lights were turned on, he emerged from the shadow of catatonia, and began his lecture'. This is from the last paragraph of this novel.
But what Erel Shalit has accomplished in this very brief but intoxicating book is to provide a path for each of us to follow, wisely using the plight of the Jews during the last century as a matrix from which to judge our own individual exile and return. He is an accomplished thinker and he is also a very brilliant writer. Grady Harp, May 11
Slender, Succinct, Superb
By Edith Sobel (Fort Lee, New Jersey)
This slim but incisive novella is a philosophical but completely comprehensible take on contemporary Israel. From a "litany of lamentations" drawn from the current generation which appears to be the antithesis of their idealistic founding fathers, the thoughtful narrator Eli Shimeoni (about to give a lecture in New York) recounts his overriding despair - but eventually concludes with hope.
Elegantly and thoughtfully mourning today's saga of Israeli disillusion without hope, bitter alienation, and collapse of Zionist ideals, Shimeoni indicts the present movement out of the country for profit and the concomitant surrender of "soul."
But relying on the consistency of past Jewish history and the "triumphalism of hope" the reader reluctantly puts the book down - and smiles!