February 24, 2010 at 10:54 am | Posted in eNews, Press Releases, Uncategorized, Upcoming Events | 1 Comment

On Sunday, March 7, 2010, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM, acclaimed non-fiction writer, and contributing editor for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair magazines, Rich Cohen, will come to Cleveland for the first time to discuss his latest book, Israel is Real: An Obsessive Quest to Understand the Jewish Nation and its People.  Described by the author as a great epic, like Lawrence of Arabia, this book should appeal to a wide-range of audiences as a way to understand the people and politics that have shaped Israel as a nation.  He will be speaking at Siegal College, 26500 Shaker Blvd., in Beachwood.  Tickets are $12 at the door, or $10 if you reserve your seat before March 1.  Reservations can be made by calling 216.464.4050 or emailing

Released in the fall of 2009, this will be the first time Cohen has come to Cleveland to promote Israel is Real.  Hailed by critics as an original look at the history of an important nation, Siegal College is excited to have the opportunity to offer Clevelander’s an intimate evening with Cohen, a unique journalist who tackles tough questions that are sure to spark debates amongst his readers.

“Cohen’s idiosyncratic yet often lyrical take on Israel is sometimes exasperating but always deeply felt and refreshing.” – Publisher’s Weekly

“While Cohen clearly identifies with “the Jewish Nation,” this is not just a defense of Israel like Alan Dershowitz’s The Case for Israel and other books that set out to answer Israel’s many critics. In a very personal effort to understand the how and why of Israel’s history, Cohen helps the reader toward that understanding.” – Library Journal

About Israel is Real

In AD 70, when the Second Temple was destroyed, a handful of visionaries saved Judaism by reinventing it–by taking what had been a national religion, identified with a particular place, and turning it into an idea. Jews no longer needed Jerusalem to be Jews. Whenever a Jew studied–wherever he was–he would be in the holy city. In this way, a few rabbis turned a real city into a city of the mind; in this way, they turned the Temple into a book and preserved their faith. Though you can burn a city, you cannot sack an idea or kill a book. But in our own time, Zionists have turned the book back into a temple. And unlike an idea, a temple can be destroyed. The creation of Israel has made Jews vulnerable in a way they have not been for two thousand years.

In Israel Is Real, Rich Cohen’s superb new history of the Zionist idea and the Jewish state–the history of a nation chronicled as if it were the biography of a person–he brings to life dozens of fascinating figures, each driven by the same impulse: to reach Jerusalem. From false messiahs such as David Alroy (Cohen calls him the first superhero, with his tallis as a cape) and Sabbatai Zevi, who led thousands on a mad spiritual journey, to the early Zionists (many of them failed journalists), to the iconic figures of modern Jewish Sparta, David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, and Ariel Sharon, Cohen shows how all these lives together form a single story, a single life. In this unique book, Cohen examines the myth of the wandering Jew, the paradox of Jewish power (how can you be both holy and nuclear?), and the triumph and tragedy of the Jewish state–how the creation of modern Israel has changed what it means to be a Jew anywhere.

Rich Cohen grew up in Glencoe, Illinois.  A contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone, his work has appeared in many magazines and newspapers, including The New Yorker, Harper’s and The New York Times. His other books include Tough Jews, The Avengers, Lake Effect, Machers & Rockers, Sweet and Low.  More information can be found on his website,

About Siegal College

Siegal College is Cleveland’s higher education resource for classical Jewish learning and modern scholarship.  Siegal College prepares Jewish educators and other communal professionals through degree programs, facilitates the Jewish journey of continuing education students, and provides a nondenominational environment for people of diverse backgrounds to explore Jewish life – past, present, and future.  Visit for more information and find us on Facebook and Twitter.


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  1. Thank you for sharing this event. I’ll try to make it!

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