In the middle of the nineteenth century, Europe was torn apart by a wave of revolutions that threatened to topple the existing monarchies and emPires and replace them with new governments infused with the liberal ideas of the Enlightenment. In time, these revolutions were suppressed, but the forces that were unleashed remained as a seething presence under the surface. In the Jewish world, these forces lent great impetus to the growth of the Reform movement, resulting in a colossal struggle for the hearts and minds of the great Jewish population centers of Central and Eastern Europe. On Two Fronts is a historical novel that examines the effects of the times on the largely faithful Jewish families of Hungary. It opens during the Revolution of 1848, with a young Jewish child lost to his family during the bombardment of Budapest. The child, Menachem Eisenstadt, is taken into the home of Laszos Kossuth, a great liberal Hungarian journalist and statesman, and even though he is eventually returned to his family, Menachem seems destined to travel down a different road from that taken by the rest of his family. In essence, On Two Fronts is the story of two brothers who attend the great yeshivah of Pressburg together but are torn from each other by the spirit of the times. The struggle between Orthodox Judaism and the Reform movement provides the setting for the dramatic events that enfold, leading to a climactic criminal trial in Paris and imprisonment in the infamous Devil's Island penal colony in the jungles of South America. On Two Fronts draws a sensitive and powerful portrait of a young man struggling with his inner turmoil as he tries to come to terms with his heritage and his times. It is a book filled with historical insight into both the Jewish community of nineteenth century Hungary and the tempestuous world around it. It is book filled with vivid images of a vanished world that will be sure to linger in the mind of the reader long after he has turned the last page.
by Yirmeyahu Bindman
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