THE 28TH DAY OF ELUL by Richard M. Elman
Kirkus Star


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We were the ones who were tricked into the behavior of sheep. Or swine."" As bitter as bile, this mea culpa memoir of Alex Yagodah, prompted by the bequest (dated the 28th day of Elul) of his uncle in America which now reaches him in Tel Aviv. It also specifies that he is to prove he is a Jew. However, the whole experience that has gone before, while establishing his affiliation, only repudiates his faith -- his humanity -- himself (""I am nothing if not Jewish...and yet I am Jewish and still nothing""). The journal then retraces his youth in Clig, Hungary, where as perhaps everywhere, the Jewish community lived in self-deceiving isolation from what was taking place outside, elsewhere. Alex' first gutless, gutting betrayal is when he passively witnesses the rape of his cousin-fiancee Lilo. The situation worsens with the ultimatum that Clig will be ""cleansed,"" and Alex' father makes the arrangement (""personal effects family Yagodah"" in exchange for papers) which ends with the expedient abandonment of the expendable Lilo.... More thoughtful than almost any of the books on the Hitler experience, to some extent identifiable with the Arendtian assumption of universal guilt, this is an incisive book which not only commits attention but commands every sympathy.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1967
Publisher: Scribners