Michael Leitner teaches in the Department of Recreation, Hospitality, and Parks Management at Chico State University; Sara Leitner teaches in the Department of Kinesiology. Together the couple has made extensive study of leisure--free time--with a special emphasis on Israel. And now they've produced a remarkable book exploring "Israeli Life and Leisure In The 21st Century" ($40 in paperback from Sagamore Publishing; also available in ebook format at sagamorepub.com).
The book is a collection of reports from a wide variety of scholars as well as those involved in leisure movements in Israel today. The 55 chapters focus on aspects of Israeli life outsiders may know little about, from folk dance to chess, weddings to wine tourism.
Eight chapters deal with "recreation programs for promoting peace in Israel," such as ice hockey and Friendship Games. Nine chapters present facets of leisure diversity in Israel, including "leisure culture in Arab society in Israel"; life of the Ultra-Orthodox; recreation for those with special needs; and "calculating hedonism among Israeli gay men."
The Leitners contribute several chapters, and note in the introduction that though Israel is "one of the safest places in the world to visit," "because of the unique security threats that Israel faces, military service is mandatory for Jews. Males serve for 3 years after high school and women serve for 2 years." An epilogue discusses "Israeli Leisure and Life Under Rocket Fire," and Michael Leitner writes that he and Sara were living in Tel Aviv in July 2014 when war broke out and "red alert sirens were sounding at least twice daily." Beach times by the Mediterranean Sea are interrupted by rocket alerts.
Yet the Leitners insist "the future is bright" for Israel; "its people are among the happiest in the world ... there is so much more than what is shown in the popular media." Their book is a corrective, with something surprising on every page.
Michael and Sara Leitner will be presenting their book and signing copies at Congregation Beth Israel, 1336 Hemlock Street in Chico, this afternoon from 4:00 - 5:15 p.m. Admission is free and light refreshments will be served.