it is our policy only to include books by authors living in Israel, we made
an exception for Discovering Natural Israel by Michal Strutin.
This book is so well written that even the armchair hiker will be able to
imagine enjoying the flora and fauna of Israel. It is a seamless combination
of nature, bible, history, maps, photos, explanations conversations, and insights
and demonstrates a well-grounded understanding and deep love for the physical
land of Israel. Indeed Strutin confessed to having “a love affair with the
Author Michal Strutin spoke with @The Source Israel about why she wrote
Discovering Natural Israel.
Strutin, whose other books on natural history include two volumes of Smithsonian
Guides to Natural America, said that she wanted to combine her
love for nature with her love for Israel and show readers what “lies beneath
the soil” of thousands of years of Jewish history in the Middle East. “Israel
is the center of the earth and an awful lot of everything that makes us what
we are today, was born in there,” she said. While she knows that most people
do not “kvell” over nature, she felt that a book tying in nature and history
would be of interest to a broad audience. And indeed, I read the book cover
to cover for that very reason.
The bulk of the book’s research was done during a 3-month trip during the
spring of 1997. Strutin picked that time to coincide with the blooming of
spring flowers and with the massive bird
migrations which draws thousands of bird watchers every year and then returned
in 1998 to complete the work. “I was simply astonished at the number of people
I met while hiking throughout
the country,” she commented. Strutin is still in contact with some of the
guides and other people she met during her research.
Thinking back to my own daughter’s mitzvah project of cleaning up the Coral
Reef, I asked Strutin what she thought about the environmental saviness of
Israelis. Strutin thinks that while
many Israelis love to hike and spend time enjoying nature, they aren’t aware
of its fragility but thinks that organizations such as SPNI are making a difference
in educating the public.
I intend to bring this book on my next hike in Israel so that I will better
understand what I’m seeing and its significance.
Recommended for virtual and actual nature lovers.