But it was not to be. From an early age, Brandes knew that she must ultimately leave the Orthodox Jewish world in which she was raised. But her departure was gradual, and after many years of searching she settled into the more relaxed Judaism that characterizes many in the Sephardic community, whom Brandes calls “very Jewish, very Zionistic, comfortable in the synagogue, but also willing to turn on the TV on the Sabbath.” Despite this background, Brandes insists she has “never experienced a crisis of faith. God is the most natural part of my life.”
Today, Brandes is one of the five most-read authors in Israel. Her book Akiva’s Orchard, published in 2012, competed at the time with the Hebrew translation of the international bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey. In the end, Brandes’ book, which deals with the formation of post-Second Temple Judaism, won out, which tells you something about the preferences of contemporary Israeli Jewish society.
Considering her upbringing, Brandes’ admiration for Jesus, as expressed in Akiva’s Orchard and in her narration of the popular...
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