Those who read Caroline Glick’s columns in the Jerusalem Post are familiar with the eloquence and passion that make her not only one of Israel’s most prominent commentators but one of its finest writers. (She has just published "Shackled Warrior ," a collection of her essays in English).
She also writes a monthly column for The Jewish Press, and her latest column there (“The Luckiest Jews in the World”) is a magnificent description of the experience of writing in modern Hebrew -- in an essay that expands into a reflection on something even more grand. Here is part of what she says about Hebrew:
Writing in Hebrew is a qualitatively different experience than writing in English. . . . [Hebrew] has fewer words and the words it has are denser and more flexible than English words. A 1,200-word essay in Hebrew will be 1,800 words in English. . . .
The density of meaning in Hebrew is a writer’s dream. Nearly anyone can imbue a seemingly simple sentence with multiple, generally complementary meanings simply by choosing a specific verb, verb form, noun or adjective. These double, triple and even quadruple meanings of one word are a source of unbounded joy for a writer. . . .
Modern Hebrew in particular is an eclectic amalgamation of classical Hebrew, Yiddishisms, and expressions from the Sephardic Diaspora experience. Greek, Roman, Aramaic, Turkish, Arabic and English expressions meld seamlessly into the stream of words. It is not simply that it is the language of the Bible. Hebrew is also an expression of the unique culture of a small, proud, often besieged, often conquered and permeable people.
It is unbelievable that a language can be so immediately and unselfconsciously expressive of feelings that have traversed millennia.
Then she explains that Hebrew is part of the reason “why a Jew in the Diaspora, particularly the
Israelis have quick fuses. Among other things, this distinctively Israeli rush to anger makes being stuck in rush hour traffic a bit like dancing a waltz in the middle of a shooting range. Then too, service is not a concept that most Israelis -- particularly in service professions -- are even vaguely familiar with.
Beyond the general fallibility of Israelis, there are the wars and the hatred and the terror that make up so much of life in
Yet once a Jew catches the Zionist bug, none of that is important. Once a Jew allows himself or herself to feel the pull of our heritage, of our language and our land, the frustration, danger and hardship of living in Israel seems like second nature -- as natural as breathing in and out.
I recently moved to a home on the edge of a valley filled with forests and carpeted by wildflowers. Every day I hike for an hour or two along the trails below. A few days ago, as I walked late at night, I considered the dark and silent hills surrounding me and felt safe. They were liberated in 1948.
As I stood for a moment, I thought to myself, “These hills have already been conquered for you, by people better than yourself. Now it is your job to keep them safe for the next generation. . . .”
Israel lives in me, as it lives in all Jews. It is who we are. And those of us lucky enough to recognize this truth and embrace it in all its fullness and depth are the luckiest Jews in the world.
Caroline Glick moved to
After she left government in 1998, she received a Master’s from
In 2003, Ma’ariv named her the most prominent woman in