Many Holocaust memoirs have told of the physical bravery that was shown by groups and individuals in acts of open defiance. This book is about bravery of a different kind: the unbelievable courage of one man along the six million who perished, not in physical resistance but in the quiet, inner, steely determination of one man to go on leading his people in religious observance, in the face of the Nazis, right under their haughty German noses. From birth he was destined for spiritual leadership. Living in the city of Piotrkov, Yitzchak Shmuel Eliyahu Finkler was the fifth Rebbe of Radoschitz, in a dynasty of chassidic leadership that spanned most of the 19th century and a bit of the 20th. And when war brought the Germans to Piotrkov as the city's brutal conquerors, ready to carry out Hitler's satanic plan to rid all vanquished territories of Jews, it was Reb Yitzchak's sacred mission to continue as a Rebbe among his people, to lead them in religious observance and to give valued advice and direction to all who turned to him. This was the task he bore, even when the Nazis crammed the city's Jews into the ghetto, even when he was deported with others to forced labor at the concentration camp of Skarszysko. With unusual and amazingly accurate detail, this volume describes how the Rebbe of Radoschitz continued his spiritual lifework till his death at 52, after being transferred to the camp of Schlieben. It is a story of steadfast devotion to a beloved chassidic Judaism under the most harrowing conditions, by a gentle soul with a powerful faith that would not flinch before the Nazis or quail before their strength. He shined a light of faith and hope for fellow victims in the darkest period purgatory that this century has shown. This superb book, skillfully written and rendered into English by a master translator, portrays unforgettably the formidable power and glory of one Jew in a time of anguish and suffering that tested human souls to the limits of endurance.
by Yechiel Granatstein
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