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Biographer Followed in Subject’s Footsteps

Hillel Halkin tells Liel Liebovitz of his ‘Halevian’ decision

Hadara Graubart
April 21, 2010

Hillel Halkin, author of Nextbook Press biography of Yehuda Halevi, talked to Tablet’s own Liel Liebovitz for Alef, the new online magazine from Birthright NEXT. Halevi, says Halkin, along with being a poet, physician, and philosopher, was “the first Diaspora Jew to insist that life in Exile was so psychologically and morally intolerable that it had to be abandoned at all costs.”

Halkin describes his own decision to move to Israel from the U.S. in 1970 as “very much a Halevian one.” Although he wasn’t nearly as familiar with his future subject then, looking back he can’t help but relate: “For Halevi, living in the Land of Israel was a matter of inner necessity. It was something he had to do for his own integrity, and the failure to do it left him feeling incomplete and inconsistent. Judaism was for him above all a religion of action—and living in the Land of Israel was the ultimate act, the abstention from which undermined the meaning of all else.”

Interested in hearing more? Halkin’s book tour begins tomorrow. Check out the schedule here.

Hadara Graubart was formerly a writer and editor for Tablet Magazine.