YOSL RAKOVER TALKS TO GOD by Zvi Kolitz

YOSL RAKOVER TALKS TO GOD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A remarkable testament to faith in the face of suffering. Zvi Kolitz is a Lithuanian Jew who left Europe in 1940 for Jerusalem, where he built a life as a daring Zionist freedom fighter. Just over a year after WWII ended, he wrote a gut-wrenching short story, —Yosl Rakover Talks to God,— the last confessions of a fictional Jewish man who died in the Warsaw Ghetto. The story ran in Di Yiddishe Tsaytung, a Jewish paper in Buenos Aires, on September 25, 1946. Later, Kolitz moved to New York, penned a few obscure books, contributed columns to The Jewish Week and Der Algemeine Journal, and lectured at Yeshiva University (you—ll still find him there each Wednesday). His short story, however, got separated from its author. It began to circulate, sans Kolitz’s byline, as a true testimony unearthed in the Holocaust’s aftermath. In 1954, Di Goldene Keyt, a Yiddish quarterly in Tel Aviv, ran —Yosl Rakover— as —an authentic document.— The next year, it was broadcast on a Berlin radio station, and was run in the Parisian Zionist journal La Terre RetrouvÇe. Thomas Mann praised the text for offering a rare glimpse into the human condition. This volume reunites author and story, laying to rest any rumors that the document was written by someone who died in the Warsaw Ghetto. The story could stand alone: Rakover, who boldly privileges Torah over God, declares that despite everything God has done to —make me cease to believe in You . . . I die exactly as I have lived, an unshakeable believer in You.— This new edition also includes an essay by Paul Badde about Kolitz, a piece by Levinas about —Yosl Rakover,— and Leon Weiseltier’s somewhat anticlimactic reply to Levinas. The short story remains a fiction, but, as Levinas reminds us, that does not undermine its truth: Indeed, it is true as —only fiction can be.—

Pub Date: Nov. 5th, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-40451-1
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1999




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