GRAY DAWN: The Jews of Eastern Europe in the Post-Communist Era by Charles Hoffman

GRAY DAWN: The Jews of Eastern Europe in the Post-Communist Era

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An astute, challenging assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of Jewish communities formerly behind the Iron Curtain, by Jerusalem journalist/sociologist Hoffman. Traveling extensively through the region in 1989 and 1990, just as the old order was crumbling, Hoffman often was able to observe the situation immediately before and after the upheaval. The treatment accorded the Jewish population varied with each country, and was determined partly by the vitality of the community that survived the Holocaust and partly by national attitudes. The small group of ""caretaker"" Jews in Prague, for example, under the control of a party functionary who could claim a Jewish heritage, had few community activities--but, today, former dissidents provide a new direction. Jews in East Berlin--many of whom, seeking security, remained voluntarily under Communist control after the war--received ""protected species"" status that permitted a sense of collective identity, so their virtual subjugation to West German Jewish organizations after unification now raises doubts that the new leaders are any better. Elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the presence of international Jewish groups has been a mixed blessing, with the agendas of outsiders not always in sync with local objectives; but, even so, hope remains--especially in cities like Budapest, with its substantial Jewish population--that communities will prosper and not be allowed to wither away through a substantial exodus to Israel. Deftly mixing history, countless interviews, and an analysis of recent events country by country, this is a valuable resource for those interested in what the future might hold for Eastern Europe and the Jews who choose to stay there.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1992
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: HarperCollins