~Omar Haramy, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center
All Roads Lead to Jerusalem (TitleTown Publishing, May 2014) by Jenny Jones is a memoir about a Muslim American woman’s struggle to find a sense of inner peace in the turbulent atmosphere of the West Bank. Filled with relatable experiences and haunting reminders of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, All Roads Lead to Jerusalem provides an intimate glimpse into orthodox Muslim family life and brings the reader to a world at once alien and achingly familiar.
In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, Jenny Jones became uncomfortably aware of the difficulties facing her Muslim-American family living in the increasingly xenophobic culture of the United States. Worried about her children losing touch with a part of their cultural identity, and interested in exploring her own place in the country and the Islamic faith, Jenny and her three children went to stay with her husband’s Palestinian family in their small West Bank village of Safa. The learning curve was severe—ranging from comic cultural faux pas to life threatening decisions.
While Jenny had converted to Islam at age fourteen and had been practicing for more than 20 years, the intricate familial traditions, gender norms, and the instability of the West Bank proved very difficult to navigate, so much so that she began to fear never finding a place to belong as both an American and a Muslim. In response, she embarked on a unique kind of pilgrimage in the Holy Land. This possibly ill-conceived quest was contingent on gaining access to one of the most jealously guarded places on the planet—the “off limits” chambers within Jerusalem’s Temple Mount—a virtually impossible goal without the key to true belonging.
Time passed, and challenges continued to mount. Yet the many cultural misunderstandings and family conflicts that arose grew to seem trivial with the sudden appearance of the Gaza War. In an instant, danger erupted in isolated Safa, with a siege of the family village and a demand that Jenny turn over her son, then twelve years old to the Israeli Army, forcing her to take a literal stand against them.
Written with honesty and integrity, Jones demonstrates that we, as finite human beings, are always in motion, our daily choices, no matter how messy, difficult or complex, contribute to the transformation of our lives into who we are at this moment and who we will become in the future. She discovers that belonging and freedom are fluid, transcending location, culture, suffering, and politics. Through it all, she finds hope for herself and her family as she discovers that her place of acceptance isn’t about one location and one set of people but about the bonds forged of the heart, forgiveness, and understanding.
All Roads Lead to Jerusalem is a powerful and important book. It has already been praised by members of Israeli and Palestinian educational elite. Jenny’s words of wisdom, straight forward but always sincere, are relatable to people of all ages, ethnicities, and religions. All Roads Lead to Jerusalem pushes aside many of the preconceptions and stereotypes about Palestine and Islam, showing the world that women can balance deep faith and personal ambition—if they can somehow discover the value of who they truly are.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenny L. Jones was born and raised in the tiny town of Independence, Oregon. She converted to Islam from Christianity at the age of 14 after reading an English translation of the Qur'an. Today Jenny is active in the North American Islamic community. She lives in Redmond, Washington with her husband and their three children.
All Roads Lead to Jerusalem
By Jenny Jones
$15.95, 6.00” x 9.00”
For more information, a review copy or to schedule an interview with Jenny Jones