Venturing into a field characterized more by the voluminous tomes written over the last couple of centuries, David J. Goldberg offers a coffee table worthy bird’s-eye view of Jewish history. As rabbi emeritus of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, Goldberg is perhaps better known for his interfaith work and advocacy on Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives than for his views toward history. He is the first to admit that, telling readers right off the bat that he is “not a professional historian.”
But on a certain level, Goldberg doesn’t need to be, especially when his work — which spans the entire Jewish experience, from biblical times into the modern era — is as visually appealing as it is engaging.
It even includes reproductions of 15 rare documents, from pages of the oldest illustrated Bible to a copy of David Ben-Gurion’s 1948 speech declaring Israeli independence.
More troublesome than Goldberg’s backhanded critique of traditional Jewish life and interpretations of biblical events — and some instances are quite apparent — is the book’s lack of identifying information to accompany the stunning artwork that graces its pages. Hopefully, it’s an oversight that future volumes will correct.