If You Awak­en Love

  • Review
By – March 23, 2012

In their youth, Shlomtzion and Yair are typ­i­cal Israeli Jews steeped in reli­gious tra­di­tion and study. Their con­ver­sa­tions, trav­els, and inten­sive edu­ca­tion all illus­trate a total absorp­tion with laws of halacha. Even­tu­al­ly, how­ev­er, the enthu­si­as­tic devo­tion to Juda­ic caus­es, ideals, and goals that once brought them togeth­er now pro­voke Yair to end their long­stand­ing rela­tion­ship. Both mar­ry oth­ers and go their sep­a­rate ways: Shlomtzion becomes an archi­tect, who designs mod­ern com­mu­ni­ties, and Yair becomes a rab­bi who lives on a kib­butz. Although their dif­fer­ences are now clear to the read­er, they do not become clear to the pro­tag­o­nists until, per­haps by a stroke of fate, Shlomtzion’s daugh­ter and Yair’s son become engaged. Only then, when the par­ents join to plan the wed­ding, do they also begin to under­stand what has dri­ven them apart and drawn them together.

One can read If You Awak­en Love in many ways. On the one hand, it may well be a sim­ple sto­ry of unre­quit­ed love. On the oth­er hand, the love sto­ry of Shlomtz­im and Yair can be read as a metaphor of nation­al con­flict between those who strug­gle for peace in Israel and those who strug­gle to retain their land.

Malv­ina D. Engel­berg, an inde­pen­dent schol­ar, has taught com­po­si­tion and lit­er­a­ture at the uni­ver­si­ty lev­el for the past fif­teen years. She is a Ph.D. can­di­date at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Miami.

Discussion Questions