For the Werdyger family of Cracow, Poland, as for many thousands of other Gerrer chassidim, life before the war was a richly textured and profoundly fulfilling tapestry focused on the chassidic court of the Imrei Emes, the saintly and world-renowned Gerrer Rebbe; the days and nights were filled with Torah study, prayer, charitable deeds and the warm camaraderie of the Gerrer community. For young Duvid Werdyger, a gifted singing prodigy, they were also filled with the wonderful melodies of the huge repertoire of Gerrer niggunim. Indeed, the highlight of Duvid Werdyger's childhood was his visit to the Gerrer Rebbe's court and and his selection, at the tender age of six, to be part of the choir. It was a moment of great honor and excitement, and it set the tone for the rest of this remarkable man's life, dedicated to bringing joy to his people through the wonderful gift of his music. Songs of Hope, the seventh volume in the Holocaust Diaries collection, is the story of his travails and eventual triumph. During the war years, as he watched his world collapse around him under the vicious German onslaught and he himself spent years in ghettos and concentration camps, young Duvid's deeply ingrained joy and faith enabled him to survive with an unbroken spirit and without ever losing hope. After the war, when he finally returned to the land of the living, he became one of the important pioneers in the field of recorded Jewish music, and his warm and joyous voice brought the music of hope into thousands of homes, playing a vital role in the rebirth of a vibrant and dynamic worldwide Jewish community. Songs of Hope provides poignant images of the exalted Jewish culture of pre-War Poland, its brutal destruction and its eventual in America and Eretz Yisrael. But most of all, it is the heartwarming story of a gifted young singer, who, blessed with deeply ingrained joy and faith, survives years of suffering and enslavement with unbroken spirit and becomes a pioneer in the world of Jewish music.
by Duvid Werdyger
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