Rachel Berghash


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A Memoir

by Rachel Berghash

Rachel Berghash’s lyrical, impressionistic memoir charts her relationship with her homeland during a lifelong journey of self-discovery, beginning with a child’s-eye view of Jerusalem’s mysteries, her family’s religious orthodoxy, and the underlying kinship between Israelis and Palestinians.

At eighteen, she serves in the Israeli army, later attends the Rubin Academy of Music, and works as a secretary at the Israeli Parliament and The Jerusalem Post. When she marries an American artist, she moves to New York City and raises a family. Living outside the homeland she loves and having abandoned her adherence to religious strictures, she shuttles between her original and adopted countries. Touching on issues of emigration, exile, family, and reawakening to religion, Half the House shows how Berghash builds a new house of the spirit, drawing on the foundation of her past while embracing her life’s new possibilities.

“This is a beautiful, deeply stirring memoir about breaking away from Jerusalem and also about discovering Jerusalem. Perhaps all coming of age stories are about loss, exile, and the ambiguity of return, but when the story unfolds against the backdrop of Jerusalem, it reverberates in large and mysterious ways. Especially when it is written with the eye of a poet, the insight of a psychologist, and a heart of wisdom.”
—Jonathan Rosen, author of The Talmud and the Internet

"Half the House is the tale of a woman's odyssey to accommodate the spiritual mysteries of her birthplace (Jerusalem) and the intellectual freedoms of her adopted city (New York). Rachel Berghash shows how, in a life long struggle to be faithful to both, she made them one. An evocative and engaging memoir." —Clinton Bailey, author of Bedouin Poetry from Sinai and the Negev.

“A beautiful book. One feels life from the inside, yet feasts on sensory realities, sights and sounds of Jerusalem and New York. At once spiritual and down to earth, combining everyday with spiritual needs. A book to be savored in its unhurried charting of change, loss, the yet-to-be, while drawing on an abiding presence of the past. A deep affirmation of the human condition, expressed with sensitivity and care, a poetic and healing sense of time melding with something that endures.”
—Michael Eigen, author of Contact with the Depths, The Sensitive Self, and Madness and Murder

“The author's ongoing, unique ties between New York and Jerusalem reflect the story of her life, one that has come full circle. Her poetic prose dreams of a Jerusalem that was and could perhaps be revived one day, and of peace and hope for true human relations between Jews and Arabs. Required reading for anyone who wishes to understand and sense the soul of Jerusalem.” —Ari Rath, former editor, The Jerusalem Post