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Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  174 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Derived by the author from interviews and oral histories, these eighty-nine original Hasidic tales about the Holocaust provide unprecedented witness, in a traditional idiom, to the victims' inner experience of "unspeakable" suffering. This volume constitutes the first collection of original Hasidic tales to be published in a century.

"An important work of scholarship and a
Paperback, 267 pages
Published October 26th 1988 by Vintage (first published October 1st 1982)
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Bill  Kerwin
Aug 09, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing

It is now Christmas Eve, and there are few spiritual works I could recommend during this holy winter season as memorable--or as useful—as Yaffa Eliach's Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust. Whatever our religious background—whether we simply await the growing sunlight, laud the birth of goodness in a fallen world, or tell about how one bowl of blessed oil lit the holy lamps for eight days—our traditions assert warmth's dominion over a frozen land, anticipate the coming light at the moment of greatest
Feb 03, 2015 cameron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little gem of a book of very short stories. Aside from piercing looks at Holocaust experiences I got an even better glimpse of not only some Hasidic culture but more importantly, philosophies regarding how anyone explains or absorbs this horror with their faith still intact and this is a subject I'm very interested in.
Kressel Housman
Jul 03, 2008 Kressel Housman rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, especially Jews
The author of this book is not Hasidic herself, but in producing it, she interviewed many Chassidim about their experiences in the camps. She also stuck to the main concept of a Hasidic story, which is that it must end on a positive note. How is that possible with the Holocaust? Leave it to Hasidic Jews to remember G-d in the darkest of circumstances. Especially inspiring are the stories of Rebbetzin Bronia, who later married the Bluzhover Rebbe, and his words of Torah introducing the book liter ...more
Arthur Gershman
Nov 22, 2012 Arthur Gershman rated it really liked it
The gold standard by which Holocaust literature is judged is Elie Wiesel's Night/Dawn/Day trilogy. If that is 24k this is 22k gold. Does that mean 4 or 5 stars? I'm no mathematician, only a humble mechanical engineer, so I gave it 4 stars, on the grounds that predicted I would!
These tales are mostly short and so, emminently readable. Above all, one remains in my mind. It is the story of little Shachne Hiller, Mr. and Mrs. Yachowitch, and a young Polish priest. Schachne is 4 years old
Leora Wenger
Aug 05, 2014 Leora Wenger rated it it was amazing
You might think a book called Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust would make you incredibly sad. Perhaps. Well, most probably. But perhaps also it will give strength, hope, inspiration. In the forward to the book, Yaffa Eliach explains how she gathered these tales. They are based on interviews and oral histories, compiled with the help of her Brooklyn College students. She begins by relating the history of Hasidism, a movement founded by the Baal Shem Tov (1700 – 1760). From the foreword: “The main t ...more
Sep 01, 2015 Gretchen rated it it was amazing
Yaffa Eliach tells the stories of Holocaust survivors in Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust. It was frequently painful to read of the tortures and to realize that six million Jews suffered death at the hands of the Nazis. I am thankful that I had the opportunity to read these stories and to pray for all of those lost lives.
These poignant tales make me wonder how man can be so inhumane as the Germans were in trying to eradicate the Jewish population. Yet, we see today how Islamic fundamentalists are
Sep 20, 2015 NEATE rated it it was amazing
This book gives a reader personal experiences of the holocaust from many perspectives of victims and survivors. It lets a reader see these experiences in the context not only of the 1930's and 40's, and not only in the context of the lives of Jews in Europe before that time, but also in the context of the Hadisic tradition in Jewish religious history. A reader connects with the people who endured the holocaust. -Ed D.
Jan 08, 2012 Julie rated it it was amazing
I don't enjoy reading books about the Holocaust, as my book group well knows. But, 20 years ago a good friend loaned me this book and assured me that, hard as it may be to believe, these were uplifting stories. And it's true. This book is one-of-a-kind--a collection of testimonies to faith and miracles despite terrible adversity.
Sep 11, 2012 Suzy rated it it was amazing
Read this book. The "tales" are very brief, yet powerful, and so important as testimonies of the unbelievable events, both horrible and miraculous, that occurred in the lives of Hasidic Jews in Eastern Europe during the Holocaust. Every story touched me; many of the stories moved me. And there are a few that I know I will never be able to forget.
Nov 18, 2010 Rauan rated it it was amazing
wonderful "stories"... collected from survivors and beautifully embellished by the author,... inspiring... a great counterpart to the no-hope angle of other Holocaust literature (notably Borowski,..)
Joel Kleehammer
Dec 23, 2012 Joel Kleehammer rated it really liked it
To read the tales from the Hasidic world, which almost disappeared entirely during the Holocaust, is both uplifting and saddening at the same time. These tales show you how even the victims of the most heinous human rights crimes can have a positive outlook when all is over.
Sep 04, 2012 Hila rated it really liked it
I had never read about the Holocaust from a Hasidic perspective before, and was glad I found this book. Moving, healing, and not the usual way accounts from the Holocaust are told.
Jan 23, 2014 Esther rated it really liked it
These stories range from the heartbreaking to the humorous, from the affirming to the grotesque. It won't tell you much about Hasidism itself, but it will tell you some things about the Hasidim.
Apr 19, 2007 carl rated it it was amazing
if you are doing holocaust studies at any point, read a tale from here every night to inoculate yourself from complete despair. this pulled me out of a slump while i was doing just such a study.
Shiva Seven
Nov 24, 2016 Shiva Seven rated it really liked it
Apr 05, 2016 Dina rated it it was amazing
This moving book contains a collection of Hasidic Holocaust literature compiled by historian and professor Yaffa Eliach. Many of the stories were transcribed by Eliach herself during interviews with Holocaust survivors and their families, many of the contacts were provided by her students at Brooklyn college. Some of the stories in this book have been passed down orally through generations and have never been printed anywhere before.

Hasidism is a movement that emerged within Orthodox Judaism in
Max Cowboyfan
Many Holocaust books are too painful to read. Besides for the obvious, fist person accounts are very long and the writer has a desperate need to get their story out regardless of how it comes out.
this book is a compendium of first person accounts which are ultimately uplifting and right sized.
I speak only as a consumer even though I am also the son of an Auschwitz survivor who took her story to the grave.
Nov 18, 2015 Bruce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust
This book is a series of vignettes, several allude to the individuals, which is to be expected when a small community is involved. The tales are of atrocities that occurred to innocents during the Holocaust and their reaction to events. The tales are derived from interviews the "editor" conducted with survivors of the incidents.
Nov 21, 2008 Diane rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. It includes spiritual experiences of Jews who survived the Holocaust.
Courtney Stirrat
May 28, 2008 Courtney Stirrat rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, jewish, own, wwii
This is a wonderful book. Reading the story involving Pope John Paul II when he was a priest in Poland made me sob.
Meredith rated it it was amazing
Jan 30, 2015
Scott rated it really liked it
May 20, 2012
Michael Unterberg
Michael Unterberg rated it it was amazing
Jan 26, 2016
J. Robert Larmer
J. Robert Larmer rated it it was amazing
Apr 30, 2016
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May 22, 2015
Marshall rated it it was amazing
Oct 03, 2015
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Feb 25, 2008
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Yaffa Eliach (b. Yaffa Sonenson, Eišiškės, (Yiddish: אישישוק/Eishyshok) 31 May 1937) is a historian, author, and scholar of Judaic Studies and the Holocaust. She is probably best known for creating the “Tower of Life” made up by 1,500 photographs for permanent display at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

Yaffa Eliach was born Yaffa Sonenson to a Jewish family in Eishyshok near Vilna, now
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“As soon as the Rabbi of Bluzhov had finished the ceremony of kindling the lights, Zamietchkowski elbowed his way to the rabbi and said, “Spira, you are a clever and honest person. I can understand your need to light Hanukkah candles in these wretched times. I can even understand the historical note of the second blessing, ‘Who wroughtest miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.’ But the fact that you recited the third blessing is beyond me. How could you thank God and say ‘Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has kept us alive, and hast preserved us, and enabled us to reach this season’? How could you say it when hundreds of dead Jewish bodies are literally lying within the shadows of the Hanukkah lights, when thousands of living Jewish skeletons are walking around in camp, and millions more are being massacred? For this you are thankful to God? For this you praise the Lord? This you call ‘keeping us alive’?” “Zamietchkowski, you are a hundred percent right,” answered the rabbi. “When I reached the third blessing, I also hesitated and asked myself, what should I do with this blessing? I turned my head in order to ask the Rabbi of Zaner and other distinguished rabbis who were standing near me, if indeed I might recite the blessing. But just as I was turning my head, I noticed that behind me a throng was standing, a large crowd of living Jews, their faces expressing faith, devotion, and concentration as they were listening to the rite of the kindling of the Hanukkah lights. I said to myself, if God, blessed be He, has such a nation that at times like these, when during the lighting of the Hanukkah lights they see in front of them the heaps of bodies of their beloved fathers, brothers, and sons, and death is looking from every corner, if despite all that, they stand in throngs and with devotion listening to the Hanukkah blessing ‘Who wroughtest miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season’; if, indeed, I was blessed to see such a people with so much faith and fervor, then I am under a special obligation to recite the third blessing.”2 Some years after liberation, the Rabbi of Bluzhov, now residing in Brooklyn, New York, received regards from Mr. Zamietchkowski. Zamietchkowski asked the son of the Skabiner Rabbi to tell Israel Spira, the Rabbi of Bluzhov, that the answer he gave him that dark Hanukkah night in Bergen Belsen had stayed with him ever since, and was a constant source of inspiration during hard and troubled times. Based” 0 likes
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