A Love Letter to Jordan – From an American Jew

  • Book: “Live From Jordan”
  • Author: Benjamin Orbach
  • Publisher: AMACOM – American Management Association, 2007

“Live From Jordan” is a personal recollection story of a young man who traveled, lived and studied Arabic in Jordan. What’s so special about that, you might ask?  Well, this young men is an American… Jew, and if that alone did not arouse your interest yet –  the book itself is extremely well-written, and is guaranteed to make you laugh and cry at the same time.

What started as a series of long letters home to the author’s parents, was eventually transformed into a real novel.  Every letter tells a story of Benjamin’s life in Jordan, as well as his travels to other Middle Eastern countries, such as Turkey, Syria (yep, before the war), Israel, Palestine and Egypt.  And if you’re looking to find out what prejudices the author had against any of those Arabic countries (he is a Jew after all), look no more – as you won’t find any.  The author went to live in Jordan with a complete open mind, and eventually fell in love with this country and its citizens.  And on top of that, the author had a genuine interest and affection for the Arabic language, which he went to master after all.

So what exactly will you learn from this awesome book?  You will find out about the difficulties one is facing living in a far-away, foreign land, and the challenges of making new friendships, and establishing a normal life.  The author also talks about different subjects with the people he encounters.  The topics include the general feelings of Jordanians towards United States (this was right at the time U.S. was invading Iraq), about the Israeli-Palestine conflict, about love, life, and many other things.

“I saw myself for a quick moment through her eyes and was conflicted. On the one hand, her plight was quite sad.  Here was an educated, outgoing, and conservative woman who needed to find a husband who would meet all of the right cultural requirements.  Nadia was driven to such a point of need as to seek my help.  On the other hand, it was quite funny if you looked at it from the perspective of anyone who knows me as a middle-class American from Pittsburgh who won’t answer the phone on Sunday afternoons because I’m watching the Steelers and yelling at the TV.  I’ve come several thousand miles to live in Amman and play the role of foreign student matchmaker for Palestinian-Jordanian Muslim women?  My, my, that masters degree is paying off.” (p. 69)

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