An edifying portal into the perseverance of Jewish culture in the face of attempts to destroy it.

Samarkand

THE UNDERGROUND WITH A FAR-REACHING IMPACT

A debut history that details the plight of a family of Jews who fled from Ukraine to Uzbekistan while pursuing their faith.

Zaltzman was born in Charkov, Ukraine, in 1939, into an environment that was ideologically hostile to religion. During World War II, the Nazis invaded Charkov, and Zaltzman’s family fled to Samarkand, Uzbekistan, already home to a sizable population of friendly Sephardic Bucharian Jews. Still, the Soviet regime remained devoted to eliminating Jewish identity; a special division of the NKVD (Soviet secret police) was assigned the task of destroying Jewish schools, yeshivas, and synagogues. Zaltzman’s father kept him out of the Soviet schools and hid him, teaching him furtively at home, until a neighbor discovered his existence at the age of 9. Zaltzman had no choice but to attend a public school then, but he still observed the demands of his faith and stayed home from school when necessary. In the fourth grade, his attachment to Judaism was discovered, and he was compelled to attend yet another school. His father’s commitment to his chinuch—his Jewish education—was beyond any compromise, and it was an exemplary expression of the Chabad brand of Chassidic Judaism: “The Chabad community was infused with a rich inner world of Chassidic vitality,” Zaltzman writes. At the age of 16, he became involved in an organization, the Chamah, which established a network of underground Jewish schools that clandestinely taught more than 1,500 children over the years. In 1971, he immigrated to Israel. Overall, the author does a remarkable job of vividly depicting the city of Samarkand, which became famous for its tenacious preservation of Jewish customs despite zealous political persecution. It serves as an effective historical study of Jewish life under Communist tyranny, and Zaltzman’s mastery of details of the period is undeniable. The book is long—more than 700 pages—partly because it’s filled with digressive asides and detours, which can be engaging but also fatiguing at times. However, this remembrance’s artful combination of rigorous research and narrative drama makes it seem much shorter that it actually is.

An edifying portal into the perseverance of Jewish culture in the face of attempts to destroy it.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-9894438-2-1

Page Count: 738

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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