For hundreds of years, Russian Jewry suffered continual persecution and oppression. Under the Czarist regime, the Jews were confined to the Pale of Settlement, subjected to brutal decrees and sporadic violence, impoverished and degraded. Yet amid all the adversity, Torah and Judaism flourished on the harsh Russian soul. Yeshivos and Chassidic centers sprung up wherever Jews lived, and for the most part, the Jews remained strong and steadfast in their faith. But with the Communist takeover of Russia after the Revolution of 1917, a deadly atheistic spirit swept over the vast Russian steppe. That, for the first time, truly threatened to bring about the spiritual destruction of Russian Jewry. Deep in the Russian Night is the story of Aaron Chazan, an indomitable Jewish man who refused to surrender his faith in spite of the ruthless persecution of the new regime. The narrative begins with the author's family and community under attack from General Petlura and his Cossack hordes during the infamous Ukrainian pogroms of the early Twenties when chaotic civil war raged in Russia. After the Communists consolidated their hold on the country, the physical danger abated somewhat, but the systematic attacks on religion in general and Judaism in particular began. With the aid of the notorious Yesekzia, the Jewish lackeys of the Communist Party, a relentless campaign of legal and economic pressure was mounted against the Jews, a campaign which only the most heroic dedicated Jews were able to withstand. Aaron Marcus was one of those Jews, and he succeeded in bringing up a family in the hostile Communist environment and instilling his own strong ideals in all of his children. Deep in the Russian Night is more than the story of one man and his family. It is an important historical record of Jewish life in Russian from the time of the Revolution until the author and his family were finally granted permission to emigrate some fifty years later. It chronicles the early development of the Communist society, the terror-filled years under Stalin, the atrocities of the Germans during the Second World War, the Doctors' Plot, the gradual relaxation of Communist tyranny and the rise of the Russian baal teshuvah movement. It is a story of many incredibly courageous Jewish heroes who stand out as a beacon of hope and inspiration in the continuing dark chapter of Jewish captivity deep in the Russian night.
by Aaron Chazan
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