For those in Jerualem or for those who have friends who can get to Jerusalem this Sunday, Jan. 28 (9b’Shvat). I described the launching of a most unusual Holocaust project in my Jerusalem Post article Thursday 6 b’Shvat (25 Jan) titled The Day the Rabbi Ate Grass,
I describe a new collection of Holocaust memoirs that give us an unmediated glimpse into the world of rabbinic scholars who wrote about their experiences during the Hurban. These autobiographies appear not qua autobiography in the traditional sense, but in prefaces to the scholars’ rabbinic works.
Whereas a rabbinic scholar will write in a more guarded manner in the body of a work, in the preface he can “let his hair down.”
Take for example the preface to an important book by Rabbi Yitzhak Yaakov Weiss, who was well known after the war as a fierce opponent of Zionism. When he comes to write the preface, he drops his political persona.
There is not even a whisper of politics in what he writes here.
This treasure trove was ignored by Holocaust historians because the actual books, in contrast to the prefaces, often have nothing to do with the Shoah. But in printing or reissuing a book a rabbi has a chance to tell his own story discreetly in the preface.
The collection is being launched on Sunday in the format of a CD Rom containing hundreds of pages of these biographical prefaces. The CD can be obtained from the Michlalah College Jerusalem (Bayit vGan). It is the brainchild of historian Esther Farbstein who will present it in Binyanei HaOoma this Sunday at 7pm in an event for women and girls. Former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, who as a 6 year-old survived Buchenwald with G-d’s help and the wits of his 15 year-old brother, will address the audience.
There is a question in my mind. Now that there are at least 3 Holocaust remembrance days, how do we relate to them? They are: the U.N. Holocuast Day this Saturday commemorating the Jan.27 liberation of Auschwitz; Asarah bTeves observed by religious Jews as Yom Hakaddish Haklali; and there is the Israeli Holocaust & Heroes Remembrance Day a week after Pesah, commemorating the Warsaw ghetto uprising.