The Mountains of Israel – A Taste of Heaven
By Britt Lode & Rabbi Yitschak Naki
Gefen Publishing, 2015
159 pages.$26 from:
Also on Amazon: $34.95/£29.50
Reviewed by Pnina Moed Kass
At first glance I assumed this to be a typical coffee table book, a photographic journey through Israel. But a quick look at the inside page, the page in small print that lists all the publishing details connected to this book, revealed an interesting "parentage". This book was originally published by a Norwegian publishing house in 2013. Now translated into English, its first title was "Israels fjell – en smak av himmel".
After reading this beautifully produced book I couldn't help but ask myself several questions and then arrive at several conclusions.
Was there a reason for such scant credit given to the photographer? His name appears solely in miniature type on the inside page, which for a book that is so reliant on its pages and pages of glorious color photographs struck me as odd. Who is the audience for this book – the average tourist or a very select audience of religious travelers to the Holy Land?
After reading the texts, I understood this book to be a praise of biblical geography ("a balanced and correct understanding of the Bible, as well as the current affairs in Israel…") and generously enhanced by folk tales and a multitude of Bible quotations. The photographs in this book, glorious as they are, are a vehicle for the documentation of Israel's ancient heritage. "… it is on these mountains that the Kingdom of Israel will once again be restored".
This is certainly a valid use of the visual, but as a reviewer it leads me to conclude that this book's English-language readership is strictly for those who enjoy seeing the landscape of Israel embellished by the ancient texts. So, having said that, this is a handsome book for gift-giving on the holidays or special occasions, for a specific audience.