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Our Hearts Invented a Place


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About the Author

Jo-Ann Mort's articles about Israel and Jewish issues have appeared in a range of publications including the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, the Forward, the Jerusalem Report, and Dissent Magazine, where she is a member of the editorial board. She is the editor of Not Your Father's Union Movement: Inside the AFL-C/O. She lives and works in New York City. Gary Brenner, a member of Kibbutz Hatzor, is Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Givat Haviva Institute and Marketing Director of Solbar Hatzor Ltd.


"Our Hearts Invented a Place addresses the changes taking place today by way of case studies of three of the country's 287 kibbutzim: Gesher Haziv, Hatzor, and Gan Shmuel, each representing a different trend... Mort and Brenner's book is an important one, and the first I know of that deals with the privatization process, which was greeted by opposition from every quarter when it began a decade ago, but could nevertheless not be stopped."-The Jerusalem Report "The authors of Our Hearts Invented a Place ... suggest ... that in the absence of exceptional times that inspire people to transcend themselves in the service of overriding social goals-in the case of Israel, the building of a new nation and efforts to create a more just society-materialism trumps idealism."-Ralph Seliger, New York Press, October 29-November 4, 2003 "Mort and Brenner believe that the kibbutz movement is still viable. While they recognize that the desires of the individual have trumped those of the community, they still found the 'commitment to collective responsibility for health, education, and welfare very much alive' and that members of the kibbutz 'still largely share a desire to make the world better.' However, they say, the classical kibbutz model needs to be replaced if kibbutzim are to survive."-Rabbi Rachel Esserman, The Reporter, February 6, 2004 "It will tell you about Israel, enlighten you about the present state of the kibbutz and disabuse you of the notion that Marxist socialism is a practical remedy for the world's ills... A refreshing candor characterizes the authors' statements about Israel and the kibbutzim they identify."-Martin Mensch, Israel Horizons, Fall/Winter 2003 "Enthusiasm for this unique Israeli institution seems to have diminished greatly in the more than 40 years since my own personal experience. Authors Mort and Brenner have conducted a meticulous study of the movement and report in their well-written and absorbing book that the kibbutz in Israel, with rare exception, is in a perilous decline these days."-Arnold Ages, The Post and Opinion, December 10, 2003 "For many decades, the Israeli kibbutz has figured significantly in the idealism of liberals and leftists. Now the transformation of the kibbutz challenges that idealism. Jo-Ann Mort and Gary Brenner offer the best possible guide to what is happening across the kibbutz movement. They are tough-minded and realistic in their analysis, but committed at the same time to sustaining whatever can be sustained of our old ideals."-Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, N.J. "Our Hearts Invented a Place is a clear and direct analysis of the changing face of the kibbutz, an elucidation of Martin Buber's expression of the kibbutz as 'a successful failure.'"-Amos Elon, author of The Pity of it All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch and other books "Much was written about the role of the kibbutz in paving the way for the emergence of modern Israel. Yet in today's Israel, distant from the revolutionary spirit of its Zionist-socialist founders, the kibbutz is passing through a crisis: its mere survival is at stake and almost nothing has been published about this crucial stage of its development. By presenting intelligent voices from within the kibbutz, thinking aloud on the main dilemma-what should be transformed and what should remain as it was-and by their analysis and commentary, the authors of this book are filling that gap in a thoughtful and admirable manner."-Menachem Brinker, Professor Emeritus, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Crown Professor of Modern Hebrew Studies, University of Chicago "Our Hearts Invented a Place is indispensable reading for anyone interested in the Israeli kibbutz movement and the crisis it is currently undergoing."-Melford E. Spiro, author of Kibbutz: Venture in Utopia, Children of the Kibbutz, and Gender and Culture: Kibbutz Women Revisited

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