The Counterlife - Part 2 Judea, pages 83-104 Summary & Analysis

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Part 2 Judea, pages 83-104 Summary

After the telephone conversation with Henry, Nathan decides to spend the evening visiting the Wailing Wall. When Nathan sees the devout worshippers praying at the rock wall, he is amused and thinks that worshipping a rock has the same outcome as worshipping any other deity. Nathan also observes how ordinary, how "unholy," the place looks. A young man encourages Nathan to participate in the religious observances, but Nathan politely declines. The young man is not put off and continues to insist that Nathan take part in the religious activities. Nathan continues to politely refuse and the two continue back and forth for some time.

Nathan continues his tour of the area and he meets another young man. This young man recognizes Nathan and calls him by name. He says he is a fan and has read all of Nathan's books. Nathan wonders if the young man is simply enthusiastic or perhaps mentally imbalanced. The young man introduces himself as Jimmy Ben-Joseph, and he says he has come to Israel to stay. He also says that the reason he likes Nathan's writing so much is because of the way Nathan writers about baseball. Jimmy says that the main thing that Israel is missing is baseball, and if only Israel had baseball, the messiah would come.

The next morning, after breakfast, Nathan takes a taxi to the settlement where Henry lives. Nathan arrives in the settlement and asks for Henry. There is some initial confusion until Nathan learns that Henry has started calling himself Hanoch. On the way to find Henry, Nathan encounters a woman who speaks with an American accent. When he asks her if she is an American, she is offended and says she is Jewish. Nathan explains that he meant to ask if she was born in America, and she says she was born Jewish.

Nathan finds Henry in his Hebrew class. Henry is much older than the other students, but Nathan notices how fit and healthy Henry looks. The teacher asks Nathan to address the class, but Nathan says he came only to see Henry. The teacher continues to ask, so Nathan agrees. The first student asks if Nathan knows Hebrew, and Nathan says that he knows only the words for boy and girl. The next student is rude and aggressive and wants to know what Nathan could have to say that is worth the students hearing. The student goes on to make an angry speech and berate Nathan for only having visited Israel twice. The teacher wants Nathan to respond, but Nathan refuses. So the teacher makes a lengthy and fanatical speech about how the American Jews that marry non-Jews are enacting another holocaust.

Part 2 Judea, pages 83-104 Analysis

Nathan notices that many of the people he encounters in Israel regard his turning away from the Jewish religion as merely a lapse in judgment rather than a well thought out decision or a firm conviction. They seem to view is as a temporary lark and not something to be taken seriously. Nathan wonders if they are unable to comprehend the possibility that someone born Jewish could not share the Jewish religious views.

Jimmy's ideas on Israel and religion seem comical, but once Nathan arrives at the settlement where Henry lives, there is no humor to be found. The first person he speaks to seems to be militant, and the beliefs get more ardent from there. The young man in the class berates Nathan for not caring about Israel, and the teacher goes so far as the say that American Jews are intentionally killing themselves by marrying non-Jews.

This section contains 611 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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