Though the seemingly impossible dream of a sovereign Jewish state became a reality over sixty years ago, the question of Jewish
identity remains as much an enigma as ever. That enigma is at the heart of Dr Ruth Shamir's book as it explores the history
-- at times tragic, at times triumphant -- of the evolution of Jewish identity in the modern era. Dr Shamir skillfully guides
the reader through a myriad of issues that are today at the centre of a passionate debate both in Israel itself as well as
in the Diaspora, where half of the world's Jews still live. The debate -- and hence the main themes of the book -- revolves
around such questions as: Are we a nation or just a religious sect?; How do Israelis and Jews around the world conceptualise
their loyalties?; How acceptable is Jewish fundamentalism and how does Israel deal with the Moslem population within its borders?;
How do Diaspora Jews view Israeli identity and how do Israelis define the identity of Diaspora Jews?; Above all, who is a
However difficult it may be to maintain the many complex and continually changing Jewish identities under the single
roof of Judaism, Dr Shamir contends that we have no alternative -- neither for Israelis nor for the Jews of the Diaspora.
But if that overarching identity is to be preserved, Jews must internalise the core ideas of multiculturalism to create a
multifaceted Jewish identity that positively reflects the freedoms of today's world.