Just want to report that I woke up early this Rosh Hashanah to read your new book and wanted you to know today. It is wonderful. Your excursus on the Seleucid calendar delighted me and reminded me of similar wonder I felt when studying about the Gaonateís revival of it under the Jewish-Byzantine historian, Zvi Ankori. Also enjoyed your overview of the Persian liberation of 614 (some credit the Isaiah ëgrassí inscription on the Temple mound with that event) and later Byzantine revenge against the Jewish community. Iíve seen some recent work on the destruction of the Galileean Jewish estates after the Ummayid conquest, arguably an even more devastating event than the Byzantine persecutions. Your chapters on Kabbalism, Templers and Masons was also a pleasure and Iíll have a brief comment on the kabbala chapter in a moment.
What I most deeply appreciate are the personal comments at the beginning and the end that reveal a learned and warm Jewish feeling, something I intend to make the topic of conversation at the festival table today. Rare and beautiful.
Reid Heller, Dallas based Jewish educator.