Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Forever in Faith, the Sassover Rebbetzin's Story

Some WWII memoirs are written to share the horror of what took place, Forever in Faith, focuses on G-d's kindness through the horror. I feel that it is crucial to be realistic about what happened, but also to maintain the perspective that all is for the best, even in the trickiest of times. A second important aspect to always keep in mind, is that as observant Jews, we must rise above the cruelty and act properly, in all situations. Both of those points are portrayed over and over again throughout the Sassover Rebbetzin's incredible story.

Judging the Book by its Cover -  a first glance review:

For starters, I think that the title is perfect for this book. Each anecdote is one of faith whether it was a life threatening situation or a small choice. 

The actual cover has a lot of depth to it. Flowers on barbed wire, showing life in a place where death reigns. That is exactly what the book is about. There are times when the Rebbetzin was with other Bais Yaakov girls and able to blossom in a group, but other times, she was a lone flower bringing color and a pleasant aroma to those around her.

Some Details I Liked:

This book is based off of Rebbetzin Bluma Teitelbaum's memories that she recorded for her children towards the end of her life, so it is written in her voice.

I enjoyed reading the children's memories of their mother that are added at the end of the book. It makes the book not only a Holocaust memoir, but also the biography of a great woman.

Who This Book is For:

This is a great read for anyone who wants to understand more of what Jewish people went through during WWII in Europe. The Rebbetzin shares experiences from being in school with anti-Semitic non-Jews at the start, to working outside the ghetto, living in the ghetto, getting separated from her family, being transported from one camp to another, as well as going on a Death March. She explains how the hardships didn't end right away. How the Russians were just as bad as the Germans and that there wasn't any guarantee for survival even though the war was officially over. 

Who This Book Isn’t For:  

Even though the relaying of what happened is quite detailed, it is still written in a refined way. However, there are some gory details on pages 108, 109, 145 and 146. So I would say, if you have a weak stomach, instead of skipping the book completely, just skip those pages, as the message of the book is important to anyone that is looking to learn more about the Churban of Europe.

What I Didn’t Like/Would Have Made it Better:

Being that this is a person's story, as she recorded it, albeit edited and put together by her son, I don't feel that I can suggest what could be done differently.  

In Conclusion:  

Whether you are looking for a book suitable for a sad time, like the three weeks and nine days or just to gain more of a perspective of the Shoah, Forever in Faith is a keeper. I would compare this book to To Vanquish the Dragon by Pearl Benisch, as they are both memoirs of Bais Yaakov graduates who despite the atrocities, they were able to maintain their self-image of bnos Yisrael. 

I received this book for the purpose of reviewing it, but that it no way changed the way I read it and reviewed it.