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What Would the Founding Fathers Think: A Young American's guide to understanding the mess our country is in and how we get out
Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel
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We Lived in Heaven: Spiritual Accounts of Souls Coming to Earth
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A Woman's power: threads that bind us to god
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Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island
Venom
With a Name like Love
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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

My Israel Trail: Finding Peace in the Promised Land By Aryeh Green: Blog Tour Review and Book Giveaway

My Israel Trail.png

About the Book

My Israel
Genre:  Contemporary, Historical, Inspirational, Non-Fic, Memoir, Self-help, Religious
Publisher: Plain Sight/Cedar Fort
Publication date: May 1, 2018
Mayim Bialik calls the book a “fascinating journey” and “beautiful exploration of self and identity”. Natan Sharansky celebrates Aryeh’s “engaging passion and persistence”.
After his devastating divorce, which rocked his world and confounded his deeply-held optimism, Aryeh Green’s goal was to get his life back on track. His hike along The Israel National Trail enabled the discovery of a number of universal truths for living based on Jewish tradition.
In a uniquely moving and uplifting book, Aryeh invites you to join him on his trek, as he shares with you both a new perspective on Israel – the land, the country, its history and people – and illuminating insights from the experience.

About the Author

Green.png
Aryeh Green is a passionate lover of Israel – the people, the land, the country, and the idea. Residing in or around Jerusalem for the past three decades, Aryeh lives and breathes a vibrant and living Judaism, which affects all he does – including serving as Chief Strategy Officer of EnergiyaGlobal, a Jerusalem-based renewable energy platform for Africa; as Director Emeritus of MediaCentral, providing services for the foreign press in the region; formerly as a senior advisor to Israel’s deputy prime minister Natan Sharansky; as a backyard vintner; and as a writer, activist, husband and father.

Author Interview via SLB

1. What inspired the idea to write My Israel Trail?
I thought others might enjoy vicariously joining me on a walk through the Land of Milk & Honey. And more, I thought others might perhaps benefit from the personal growth I experienced on the hike, the lessons learned which helped me complete the trek and meet and overcome the personal challenges I was facing (recovering from my devastating divorce).
2. What did you as an author take away from writing My Israel Trail?
It was almost harder (certainly longer!) than the actual hike. The writing consolidated my thinking, and certainly reinforced, and planted even more deeply with my consciousness, the lessons I learned and wrote about. I find myself more patient, tolerant, optimistic and focused as a result of the writing (as well as the trek itself.)
3. What type of research did you to so you could write My Israel Trail?
Well… I walked the entire length of the Land of Israel – that’s sort of a ‘practical research’ aspect, no? Otherwise, I did look up sources for the quotes and historical references I made in the book (to assure accuracy). But it’s a memoir, so not really relevant imho….
What did your writing process for writing My Israel Trial look like?
Went through many phases. I tried to dedicate 8 hours a day for a few months; then 4 hours every morning as I completed and re-edited the work. I ‘borrowed’ a room in a neighbor friend’s home and disconnected from the Internet to reduce home/house-related distractions, and took a week’s writing retreat on the Golan at friends who own a B&B. And I periodically took long walks in the countryside to re-kindle the feeling of the trek and remind myself of the pace and feel of the hike.
4. What is your current WIP? What can you tell us about this project?
The lessons I learned on the Trail and which helped me move on with my life are incredibly applicable to our conflict here in the Middle East. I had originally included these applications to develop a radically new approach to resolving the Arab-Israel conflict, but my publisher (rightly) suggested we leave this to another book. So… When My Israel Trail becomes a bestseller (!) I expect to publish a companion, or follow-on, applying the themes of the book to our situation. (I published an article along these lines a year ago – see here.)

Snippet

I’m scared, standing on a thin ledge on the side of a cliff. To my left is a sheer rough wall; to my right, a drop of 30 feet or so to the river bed below. But directly ahead an angry tree blocks the way. (How does it hold to the side of the rock?) It seems threatening as it jumps in the hot wind. With about 50 pounds on my back, I’m too afraid of falling to turn around. Turn to the right and my backpack hits the rock face; turn to the left and the weight of the pack puts me off balance. And the boulders down below aren’t very welcoming.
What to do?
The trail leads into an abyss. Literally. I guess I’ve lost the path, which, while it’s happened before, has never been such a problem. Usually you just retrace your steps, find the last trail marker, and then pay a bit more attention to discover where you missed the next one. But here, on a cliff in Nachal Amud, the Stream of the Pillar connecting the holy city of Tzfat (Safed) with the Kinneret, the Sea of
Galilee, it’s just not that easy. Even with the backpack on (including the small guitar hanging from its side), just a minute or so ago I pretty nonchalantly leapt over a three-foot gap in the ledge a few paces back. But I just know—with all my casual confidence built up over the preceding weeks of hiking through Israel’s desert mountains and northern reaches—I can’t do it again.
That is, if I can even turn around on this one-foot-wide ledge.
It may be the perfect metaphor.
Sometimes you reach an impasse. Not only is it unclear what the next step is, but you’re also not sure how the heck you got there and are too scared to move. All the alternatives you can imagine are dangerous, or unpalatable, or frightening. You’re stuck, and the panic starts to rise.
Times of personal hardship, relationships, work situations, and other challenges we face test our mettle. Rabbi Herschel Schachter taught that the biblical “value” of a person in Vayikra, the Book of Leviticus, is calculated by his or her response to suffering and adversity. Elie Weisel and Victor Frankl took the personal and national horror of the Shoah/Holocaust and translated their experiences into timeless lessons for humanity. In Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl stresses the importance of having a goal to strive for, pushing us to move ahead, to take the next step, and the next.
My goal that day was to get to the Kinneret by nightfall (and not to plunge down the cliff face onto the rocks below). My grander goal was to finish what I’d started, hiking the Israel National Trail (“Shvil Yisrael”) from one end of our tiny country to the other. (It’s not that tiny—the Shvil runs some 1000 kilometers or 600 miles from the Red Sea in the South to the border with Lebanon in the North.) And after my devastating divorce, my ultimate goal was to get my life back on track, or to find a new track for myself.
I take three deep breaths—thank you, Thomas Crum—to calm down, focus, and discover the possibilities open before me; then I make a decision. Not moving my feet an inch, I lower the pack slowly to the ground, managing to lean it against the rock. Freed from the weight of the bag, I turn carefully and retrace my steps along the narrow path on the side of the cliff—jumping over the breach—and yes!—find the trail-marking high up on the rock face above an almost invisible foothold carved into the cliff. I did that ledge once with the pack, I know that; all I have to do now is convince myself I can do it again, this time in the opposite direction.
Retracing my steps, it’s funny, but when I (carefully!) heft the pack on my back, it seems somehow lighter, more manageable. It hasn’t changed; I have changed. Or rather, my attitude, my sense of self and sense of direction and purpose, my confidence and belief in my ability to walk the path, has changed.
It’s not that I’m no longer afraid; I just know I have it in me to keep going.
Sometimes we need to set aside our baggage and re-evaluate. My hike along the
Israel Trail—or my Israel Trail as I’m calling it—enabled the discovery, or rediscovery, of a number of essential truths for living. All come from the ancient wisdom of the
Torah and the rest of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish tradition, but at the same time they are universal and universally relevant for anyone seeking inner peace.
I was overwhelmed by the daunting challenges facing me—on the Trail, in my life, and at the national level. Every day brought a new difficulty, from scorching heat and impossible inclines to aching loneliness and crises of confidence, from news of family problems to news of terror attacks. I meditated on mountaintops and cried in dry creek beds; I wrote anguished journal entries and composed songs to lift my spirits. I looked back, and inward, and up to the night sky, and over the valley to the next mountain range, and down at the ants in the dirt, and back along the trail to see how far I’d come.
What I discovered on the Shvil was a sense of self, a sense of personal and national history…and a perspective of sorts on the human condition. These are my reflections, a meditation as it were on existence, relationships, happiness, challenges, and hope.

Review

First off, I was amazed that this man even wanted to hike the Israel Trail, a 600- mile hike all on his own. Aryeh was in his early 50's and his wife had asked for a divorce. His whole life had changed suddenly. He wanted to go on this trek looking for answers to the turmoil in his life. This is why I wanted to read his story. I'm not much of a hiker like this, even though his accounts along the trail are very interesting, the good and the bad. I wanted to read about how his experiences helped him through a hard time in his life. Some of the main things he learned about on his adventure were:
  1. Humility: And an understanding of our place in the universe. Humbly recognize how little we really control in our lives.
  2. Acceptance: Of the reality of the world as it is and not as we'd like it to be.
  3. Gratitude: Appreciation for what we have and what the world offers us.
  4. Forgiveness: Of those who have hurt us or are perceived to have harmed us.
  5. Purpose: A sense of meaning and direction. 

I want to admit I did something as I read this book. When I read something that I felt inspired me, I underlined it and highlighted it in my book. I'm not one to advocate defacing any book, but my copy of this book now looks like one of my textbooks from my college days. I took notes along the sides of the pages, so if I wanted to come back and read something again it would be easy to find. As I got into the book, I felt myself seeking answers along with Aryeh as journeyed in the desert and through the mountains. 

I wanted to point out some of the things that really got my attention in the book. I've felt like I've been at a standstill in my life since my divorce 10 years ago. Life has been hard. The teachings (that's what I'm calling them) in this book have really opened my eyes to changes I need to make mentally, physically, and emotionally. 
  • Choose Life: Take Life as it comes, not passively but actively choosing to look on the bright side and to focus on the wonders and beauty, on the "Trail" and always...
  • Stay positive. Keep your thoughts LIGHT. 
  • Accept things I cannot change in order to free myself to heal.
  • If humility is the basis for a healthy approach to challenges, then acceptance builds the foundation for looking forward.
  • Pray for strength: strength to carry on; strength to know,to understand, to perceive, strength to forgive; strength to give, to love, to survive...the ability to hold on.
  • {This next one I know he was talking a lot about him hiking the trail and how hard it was, but it still was very impactful} "I'm thinking of the strength needed to persevere...Every hardship, every thought,brings me back to the reason I'm here...You find a solution; you push yourself harder,you take a break,you adjust your gear,you step carefully slowly. Sometimes through using the markers as a guide you have to choose your own way which is comfortable or best for you. But you don't just give up! Not without a fight."

This book reads like a self-help book, a travelogue, and an adventure book. There are so many other things I wish I could share with you but I really want you to explore this book on your own. I learned many new things about the land and the people of Israel. It made me only want even more to go visit and walk some of the trails that Aryeh did. This book is not one I read in one or even two sittings. I would read a chapter, close the book, and then contemplate about what I had read and written in my notes. This fascinating account of Aryeh Green on his journey of hiking and healing is one I recommend to those seeking answers in life, nature lovers, and those wanting to understand things from a religious perspective. 

Giveaway
MIT Giveaway
Enter the giveaway HERE.  Giveaway ends 11:59pm MT on July 21st.
Giveaway is subject to policies HERE.
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