Israel is a flower -- perhaps the greatest -- of the Jewish imagination. Over the course of two millennia of exile, a vision of Israel endured. It has taken on forms that were fantastic and humble, dreamlike as prophecy and prosaic as a hammer and nails. The capacity for bringing forth a world from the imagination -- a better world, a land of peace and plenty and freedom from the terrors and indignities of exile -- is part of our heritage as Jewish writers, and in our work we draw strength from that heritage every time we sit down at the computer to write. But as anyone might attest whose Bubbe ever warned him or her, as ours did us, to avoid walking over manhole covers, playing with sticks, or swimming after eating, the Jewish imagination is also a powerful tool for the envisioning of future disaster. In this darker guise, the Jewish imagination has fueled the vivid nightmares of our people from the ghettoes of Europe to the far-fetched claims of today's email fear-mongerers; and of course many of those dark imaginings of the Jewish future have also, tragically, been realized over the years.