The Bible and 5 Other Books on Love and Assimilation Taught in Israeli Schools

Several books currently in the curriculum highlight Jewish-Gentile love, just like 'Borderlife,' the book recently banned from Jewish high schools for 'threatening Jewish identity.'

Hebrew Bible (illustrative).
Dreamstime.com

The Education Ministry's move to ban Dorit Rabinyan's "Borderlife" from Israeli high schools on the grounds that it "threatens Jewish identity" and thus encouraging assimilation, raises questions on other books taught in Israeli schools. 

Here are several books that describe Jewish-Arab love taught in Israeli schools:

1. The Bible: Sarah had a problematic relationship with the Pharoah in Egypt with Abraham's encouragement, who identified himself as her brother. King Solomon had a thousand women, many of them gentiles, and even allowed them to worship their own gods - actually considered one of his major sins. One of King David's wives, Maacah, daughter of the king of Geshur, was also a foreigner. David himself was also the great-grandchild of Boaz the Jew and Ruth the Moabite.

2. "A Trumpet in the Wadi," by Sami Michael: One of the oldest and most beloved books in the curriculum, "A Trumpet in the Wadi" tells the story of two neighbors in Haifa - Huda, an Arab Christian, and Alex, a Jewish immigrant from the Soviet Union, a student and an amateur trumpet player, and the delicate love that develops between them. They don't just fall in love with each other, but realize that Huda is pregnant with the fruit of their love, her only remnant of Alex, who dies during the first Lebanon war.

3. "The Slave," by Isaac Bashevis Singer: Jacob, a Polish Jewish peasant, is sold into slavery. Although he tries to keep his Jewishness, he falls for Wanda, a farmer's daughter. Jacob agonizes over his love, filled with guilt over her religion. After a group of Jews rescued him, Jacob later returned to marry Wanda before the two moved to a new village where no one knew them.Wanda pretends to be mute in order to keep their secret, but is still harassed by the women of the village. Her secret was revealed when she screamed in agony during the birth of their child, before dying and buried as a goy outside of the village.

4. "The Lover," by A.B. Yehoshua: Here is a novel that describes Dafi, a good girl from a decent family, and Naim, a young Muslim boy treated like he's part of the family. The young Dafi and Naim orbit each other until the inevitable lovemaking, after which Dafi demands that Naim remains her lover. The adults' anger rises, and Dafi's father banishes Naim to his village. Still in love yet also realistic, Naim already knows a thing or two on Israelis and Palestinians.

Students taking a matriculation exam at a high school in Hadera.
Alon Ron

5. "Behind the Gate," by Chaim Nachman Bialik: The national poet, too, fell for a Gentile. The love story at the heart of the novella begins with the young love between Noah, an observant Jew, and Marinka, a beautiful and well-developed Christian orphan. The relationship between the two develops despite the opposition of Noah's parents and Marinka's adoptive mother - but stolen waters are sweet and the two become lovers.

6. "The Lady and the Peddler," by Shai Agnon: This short but powerful story from a Nobel Prize winner begins with an innocent Jewish peddler selling a knife to a Christian woman. From here to there he moves into her home and eventually into the bed of the seductive Christian before abandoning his faith.

Tel Aviv Universtiy Literature Professor Menachem Perry addressed the book banning, saying that "the censors are crying. It's a joke because in this manner they'll have to censor the Bible and Bialik, and from there they'll find a reason to censor every creation. They'll have to reject most of Hebrew literature because there isn't one that you can't find something in. Maybe we won't teach literature at all. This atmosphere is reminiscent of the Nazi regime in the 1930s. Slowly, there will be racial purity here."